More About Budget Season

Annual Operating Budget

Arlington's annual operating budget outlines spending on County programs, services, and administration for the County's fiscal year, which begins July 1. 

The adopted FY 2020 budget outlined $1.4 billion in General Fund spending. Balancing the budget required approximately $4.8 million in spending reductions and a 2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate for residential and commercial properties. 


Last year's approved spending: $1.4 billion dollars. Breakdown: Schools - $532.3 million; Public Safety -- $150.6 million; Human Services - $142 million; Environmental Services $99.4 million; Constitutional Offices and Courts $77.5 million; Regional/Non-Departmental $79.2 million; Debt Services $72.2 million; Libraries and Recreation $57.8 million; Management and Administration $51.5 million; Metro $47.6 million; Planning and Development $22.1 million

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

The CIP is the County’s 10-year plan for building, maintaining, upgrading or replacing County facilities, equipment, and infrastructure. This includes libraries, parks, community centers, technology systems, water, sewer, stormwater and transportation infrastructure—and more. The County updates the CIP every two years as the needs of the community become more defined and individual projects move along in their planning and budgeting processes.

The most recently adopted CIP covered FY 2019-2028. It outlined $2.8 billion in County investments across a broad range of categories. 

Budget Season Timeline

In reality, the budget process never really stops. As soon as one year's budget is adopted, work begins on the next one. However, budget season essentially runs from October to April for the annual operating budget, and from October to July for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). 

The budget and CIP both follow similar development timelines, The operating budget is developed annually, while the CIP is updated every two years. 

  • Step 1: County Manager Gathers Input (Fall/Winter). The County Manager gathers input from his leadership team, County employees, the County Board and the Arlington community. This input will help frame and develop the Manager’s Proposed Budget or CIP.
  • Step 2: Proposed Budget or CIP Released (Winter/Spring). The County Manager presents his Proposed Budget to the County Board in February, and his Proposed CIP in May. The proposals are the culmination of several months of work by the Manager and County staff.
  • Step 3: County Board Gathers Feedback (Spring/Summer). The County Board hosts a series of work sessions with County agencies to learn more about the specifics of their budget or CIP proposals. The Board also holds public hearings and gathers feedback online as it considers the Manager’s proposals.
  • Step 4: Final Adoption by County Board (Spring/Summer). Following extensive review and consideration, the County Board adopts a final operating budget in April, and a final CIP every other July.

Getting Involved in Budget Season

The public has many opportunities to provide input into the budget and CIP development process. During the fall and winter, you can help the County Manager develop proposals to send to the County Board for their consideration. In the spring and summer, you’ll be able to tell County Board members what you think of the Manager’s proposals before they adopt a final budget and CIP.


For more information

You can find even more information on the County's budget page.