Only about 100 persons turned out last night for a public hearing on Arlington County's proposed budget and tax rate.
County officials said it was one of the smallest crowds for a budget hearing in recent years; 33 citizens spoke and it was over in two hours--an unusually brief period.
Board Chairman Ellen M. Bozman speculated that the hearing, broadcast over cable television, was short because the proposed $224 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 contains no major program cuts. She also pointed out that while the proposed real estate tax rate would rise by three cents to $1.01 per $100 of assessed valuation, it would add only $2 to the average homeowner's tax bill because assessments have fallen.
Only a few of the speakers mentioned the tax rate.
The board has advertised a possible tax rate increase to $1.01 for this year, but may adopt the current rate or anything in between.
David Mason, representing the county Republican Committee and speakers for the Arlington Taxpayers Association said they oppose any increase in the tax rate. Jean Harrett, speaking for the Arlington Civic Federation, said her group favors a rate of 99 cents per $100 valuation because it would give the board a hedge against revenue uncertainties. She said the federation supports the school board's request for a county contribution of $51.5 million for the next fiscal year's school budget.
Proposals to increase late-book fees and reduce hours at county libraries, to close Fire Station No. 6 near the Falls Church line and to eliminate a recreation program at the Madison Center encountered opposition.
The board is expected to act on the budget and tax rate Saturday.