By Associated Press - Friday, February 23, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - An Arlington County official says a worsening commercial vacancy rate will require $20.5 million in budget cuts and layoffs in the coming fiscal year.

The Washington Post reports that County Manager Mark Schwartz on Thursday unveiled a $1.27 billion general fund budget, up 1.7 percent since last year. The budget would boost pay for firefighters and police and add $13.4 million for schools.

Residential property tax bills would increase an average of $297 because home values have grown 3.8 percent.

Schwartz told the County Board said the commercial vacancy rate has increased to 19.4 percent and is the “underlying challenge” faced by the county.

The County Board will vote on a final budget proposal on April 21.

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