As readers know, my Vice Chair, colleague and friend Erik Gutshall has been battling brain cancer. He announced on Monday that he has decided to resign his position on the Board. After Erik joined the Board in 2017, we became friends and found that we were aligned on many issues. We came to appreciate each other’s strengths and, this year, became a strong leadership team. My heart aches for him and his family. His presence on the Board will be dearly missed. Erik and his family have appreciated the cards, letters and emails of support that have been pouring in. Please continue to let Erik know that we all are pulling for him and appreciate his service to the County.
FY 2021 Budget: The manager presented his scaled down budget for FY’21. Because neither our revenues nor our expenses are clear at this time, we expect to be making many adjustments throughout the year. The budget’s goals are to preserve and increase as-needed funding for direct life/safety services to our residents; to preserve County employee jobs so our infrastructure is in place to recover; finance investments that will help our recovery efforts; and create financial flexibility by slowing or postponing some projects and initiatives and draw down financial reserves. We will hold a public hearing on April 23rd and adopt our budget April 30.
COVID-19: The County continues to work with our regional partners to provide sufficient medical capacity and to make testing more widely available for our residents. As we all know this is a national problem as is obtaining adequate medical supplies and personnel for our medical facilities. Arlington has long had a stockpile of supplies like PPE in case of an emergency. We began adding to that supply in January.
Every week the number of people seeking food assistance grows exponentially. My former School Board colleague Abby Raphael and our Director of Library Services Diane Kresh are heading up a food task force that is bringing together County government resources to partner with our non-profits, Arlington Public Schools and volunteers to make sure everyone who needs food can have access to it. Current resources are listed on the County website, including SNAP, Meals on Wheels, among others.
Many additional resources for our community can be found on the COVID-19 webpage for Arlington County. We continually add to the page as we bring more resources online for individuals, businesses and organizations.
The Board has 4 main areas of focus right now. Please spread the word that the County and State have good assistance available for our residents.
1) Adequate Medical Care
— Coronavirus testing
— Medicaid enrollment
— Coping with stress
2) Adequate Food for Everyone (as discussed above)
3) Financial Assistance for those who need it for rent, etc.
— Individual financial support
— Unemployment insurance: Gov. Northam has waived the one-week waiting period
4) Business Survival
— Counseling sessions, as well as webinars and disaster loans
— Register an organization for gift card sales through Arlington CAN-DO
As expected, the numbers of confirmed cases and those who have died continue to climb in Arlington. So far we have not experienced the rapid increase in cases that we have seen in other hard-hit areas around the US. Our social distancing efforts are making a real difference. Additionally, the CDC (and the Board) is now encouraging all of us to wear face coverings when running essential errands. Here is an easy way to make a mask at home.
To be clear, this is not meant as a replacement for staying at home, handwashing or maintaining 6 feet of distance – those remain the cornerstones in the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
We expect the pandemic to get worse before it gets better and the next few weeks are likely to be difficult. We will get through this together! I continue to be heartened by how many people are stepping up to do whatever they can. Volunteer Arlington continues to be a good clearinghouse for our non-profit efforts. I encourage everyone to reach out to neighbors to build street-level networks that make sure everyone is getting the support they need, including those not on the usual social media groups and listserves. Arlington Community Corps continues to be working on building and supporting those networks.
We plan to hold another County Board Town Hall using “Facebook Live” this Friday, April 10th; here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/ArlingtonVA/
I hope this information is helpful. If you have questions you’d like us to address, please join the Town Hall or just send them to me by replying to this email.
P. S. The Democratic Primary for County Board scheduled for June 9th will now be held June 23rd. While I have suspended campaigning, I am on the ballot and would appreciate everyone’s vote.