The county board meeting opened with public comments on the County's snowblower loans program, a need for a year-round full-service homeless center and the construction at the interchange of Courthouse Road and U.S. 50, as well as other items. After the board's response to public comments, there was a brief presentation by Cdr. Darren Nelson, the future commanding officer of the Arlington (LPD-24), a Landing Platform, Dock under construction in Pascagoula, Miss. The new ship is named after Arlington County and is the third U.S. Navy ship to commemorate the county. More information on the ship may be found here: http://ussarlingtoncommissioning.org/
The Ballston BID follows similar programs that have been successful in Rosslyn and Crystal City to improve the area's competitiveness for business and promote Ballston as a hub for science and technology. The proposal would operate on a budget of around $1 million per year, to be paid for with a 0.045% increase in property taxes on commercial real estate within the district. The allotted budget is to be used for services that the county does not generally provide. Some local businesses, including the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, represented by Thomas Montgomery, are opposed to the plan due to concerns over the plan, as well as the increased taxes. John Shooshan, of the Shooshan Company, one of the sponsors of the proposal, recognized that there is some loss of value in the real estate due to the tax increase but stated that while the Ballston area was the "envy of other districts" and was highly competitive now, the BID was need to ensure that the area "[keep] ahead of the pack" and would remain competitive in the future. After much debate, the Board approved the proposal in a 5-0 vote.
The next item of business for the board regarded taxi services in Arlington County, specifically a proposal from EnviroCAB to increase its fleet from 50 to 75 vehicles and a new company, Go Green, which proposes bringing 50 cabs into service in Arlington. The recommendation of the county manager and the transportation commission, based on market change, taxicab performance indicators and competition in the industry, was to deny both of these proposals. One of the key factors in their recommendation related to a concern that taxi stands in Arlington were often full or overflowing and that additional taxis in the county would make it more difficult for cab drivers to make a decent living. Representatives from EnviroCAB and Go Green followed with presentations of their cases, which focused on competition (450 of the 745 cabs operating in Arlington are owned by Red Top/Yellow Cab) and the growing demand for environmentally-conscious taxicabs. These presentations were followed by often impassioned pleas for rejections of the proposals from cab drivers or their spouses, who argued that they already faced great challenges in getting business and that more cabs in already overflowing cab stands would not provide greater service to the public and would make it more difficult for them to make a living. The Board deliberated on this and in the end denied the proposals of EnviroCAB and Go Green.
The final piece of business was the approval of legislative priorities for the 2011 Virginia General Assembly, which was discussed in a closed session.
Board meetings are broadcast on local television and online and are a good way for residents to learn what is going on in the county. Meetings are held at 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 300. Further information on the County Board can be found here: