As the partial shutdown of the federal government enters its fourth week, Arlington County today joined local governments around the region in taking actions to help ease pressure on County residents and businesses.
“Federal government shutdowns have a direct and far-reaching impact on our community,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said. “We have federal workers not getting paychecks, grant payments for federally supported County programs on hold, and lost tax revenue due to drops in economic activity.”
What the County is doing to help
Arlington is home to many federal workers likely furloughed under the partial shutdown, as well as businesses that could be feeling effects from the shutdown. In response, the County has taken steps to ease the strain on those affected:
- The Department of Human Services is monitoring the status of various public benefits programs, including Housing Choice Voucher, SNAP, WIC and others. These programs are not currently affected, but DHS will update their online listing should any changes occur.
- The Department of Environmental Services will be waiving late fees on the County utility bill for furloughed federal employees impacted by the government shutdown. Affected customers should call the County’s Customer Contact Center at 703-228-6570 to see if we may able to assist in a payment arrangement to avoid any late fees. This will be on a case-by-case basis.
- If you are having trouble meeting a tax deadline due to the furlough, call the Treasurer’s Office at 703-228-4000 for information about the Taxpayer Assistance Program.
- Arlington Public Library may waive outstanding overdue fines for furloughed federal employees. Affected patrons should visit any location or contact the Library (703-228-5940) and provide a valid federal employee ID.
- The Department of Parks and Recreation maintains a Fee Reduction Policy for individuals or families who might have difficulty paying park and recreation fees.
- Small businesses needing assistance can contact Arlington BizLaunch, the County’s small business and entrepreneurial assistance network. Please contact the office if you are seeking assistance on how to restructure your business, financing or to discuss changes to your business strategy.
“I am hopeful that our efforts as a County will make a difference, but the longer this goes on, the more difficulty we’re going to be facing,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said. “Until this shutdown is over, I am asking every Arlington resident and business-owner to be on the lookout for opportunities to help those who might be in need.”
Financial impacts to the County
The County receives only a small percentage of its total revenues from federal sources, mostly in the form of reimbursements for locally administrated assistance programs. The County is continuing to monitor the status of these programs for any potential disruptions.
The shutdown could also impact County tax revenues through lower economic activity. During the last major shutdown, in October 2013, the County saw a decline in sales, meals and hotel tax revenues due to drops in government-related business travel to the area. An absence of federal workers in key business districts on weekdays also brought less spending at restaurants, dry cleaners and other local businesses. The County maintains reserve funds specifically to address such unexpected events and shortfalls in revenue.