County Budget Surplus Could Fund Tree Projects

Arlington County has a unique opportunity this month to make a real commitment to our urban tree canopy using a surprise surplus to fund a wide range of tree and natural Resource projects that have been proposed. In June of this year, the Forestry and Natural Resources Commission sent the Board a letter requesting funding for an updated tree canopy survey “especially if more funding becomes available through COVID stimulus money or unexpected savings in other parts of the budget.” The Commission stated that the comprehensive and accurate survey is needed to set future canopy goals, and accurately map the existing canopy and impervious surfaces. No funds have been identified for preserving our tree canopy. Demand adequate funding for the many needed forestry and natural resources projects before the November 13th Board meeting at CountyBoard@arlingtonva.is  For more details, go here.

Such a survey could also be used to identify and target funds toward communities with tree canopy deficits that experience a disproportionate amount of adverse environmental and health impacts. The County Manager has identified “equity” concerns such as this as a key objective for the use of surplus funds. There are many other tree-related projects deserving increased funding including the Nature Centers for increased staff and resources for popular programs.

According to ArlNow, Arlington County has just announced that it has $20.5 million in 2020-2021 budget funds still uncommitted and $17 million in unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds with another $23 million expected. The Count Manager’s proposals are summarized in this agenda item from the October 16th Board meeting.  The County Manager is taking emails at  comments on the surplus and ARPA proposals prior to the November 13th Board meeting.

See CALENDAR for upcoming opportunities to advocate for trees.