Tommorow, Arlington voters will face the largest bond referendum in the county's history -- $94.5 million in proposed borrowings. Added to the nearly $47 million in borrowing in August, this borrowing would more than double the county's already large debt burden.
Apart from the questionable merits of some of the proposed borrowings, nearly $100 million is far too much debt to assume when the county is in an economic slump. In a rising economy, that large a figure would be bad policy; in the present economy, it is an extravagance.
To vote for this huge debt is to vote for sharply rising taxes. Debt would rise to $273 million. Add in interest of $160 million, and you have a prospective debt burden of more than $400 million. This is equivalent to more than $2,500 for every man, woman and child in the county.
Like the state of Virginia and the federal government, Arlington County needs to cut back. Arlington voters can help by voting "No" to adding $94 million to our debt burden.
But if they vote to accept one or more bond proposals, the county board should nonetheless postpone and stretch out the pace of actual borrowings, while working off payments on the present debt.
The largest project among the proposed bonds is a new courthouse and police facility. The Arlington County Taxpayers Association has supported this project. However, even if voters give the authority for borrowing up to the estimated $53,850,000 for the project, it is not a mandate to spend that much.
The county board should consider the changed economic outlook of recent months and reassess its program. It should reduce the size of its plans and delay its timetables. Prudent stewardship calls for no less. BENJAMIN J. GAULT President Arlington County Taxpayers Association Arlington