Arlington council members Tuesday approved the city’s $552 million 2022 budget, allowing officials to restore services and positions put on hold at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, utilizes federal pandemic relief and higher-than-expected tax revenues to return city services to pre-pandemic normals and start up new programs. City Manager Trey Yelverton told council members in August that property tax revenue is up $7.3 million in 2021 and sales tax revenue is expected to be $71.7 million in 2022.
Property taxes under the new budget will fall by 0.43%, but increased property values mean most home owners will see an increase in their bill. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 will pay $1,487.52 with a homestead exemption. The average resident will pay $97.50 more per year for property taxes, sanitation, water and storm water services, according to budget documents.
Water rates will rise 3% in the new budget, after the city stalled rates during the onslaught of the pandemic. The city expects residents who use around 7,000 gallons of water and 4,000 of wastewater per month to pay $1.84 more per month.
The city plans to spend around $19.7 million in American Rescue Plan funding on police and fire services. Arlington Police Department officials plan to create and staff a behavioral health unit, plus hire a police chaplain, a Drug Enforcement Agency task force officer, three investigative sergeants and four detectives. The city plans to spend its remaining $21 million in Rescue Plan funding through December 2024.
Police and fire departments account for the brunt of the city’s general fund spending, with $117.85 million directed toward police and $51.59 million toward the fire department.
The fire department plans to hire 45 new firefighters and create two public health positions in order to tamp down its response time from over 6 minutes to 5 minutes and 20 seconds. The department will also create six squads to better reach high-demand neighborhoods and operate the new public health unit at 2920 S. Cooper St.