The Mission of the Treasurer’s Office
It is the mission of the Treasurer’s Office, as spelled out in the Code of Virginia, to collect state and local taxes and other revenues, to invest and safeguard the funds, and to disburse the funds as directed by the local governing body.
What is a Constitutional Officer?
The predecessors of today’s Constitutional Officers were created in Virginia in 1634. The powers and duties of the local clerks and sheriffs, established at that time, are the basis of the duties of Constitutional Officers today. The Virginia Constitution of 1850 provided for the direct election of all local officials. This tradition of local officials directly elected by, and answerable to, the voters of their jurisdiction continues to this day.
The Constitution of Virginia provides for five locally elected officers. These Constitutional Officers are the Treasurer, the Clerk of Circuit Court, the Commonwealth Attorney, the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Sheriff.
Why is the County Treasurer an Elected Position?
As an elected official, independent from the County government, the Treasurer provides critical checks and balances. This independence ensures the separation of duties between those officials responsible for budgeting and tax assessments, and the Treasurer, who is responsible for collecting, safeguarding and dispersing the County’s revenue. The presence of Constitutional Officers eliminates layers of government bureaucracy. Their duties are performed by elected officers, responsible and responsive to you, the Arlington citizen.
What Tasks Does the Treasurer Perform?
Tax and Revenue Collection: The Treasurer prepares, mails and collects all bills for real estate and personal property located in Arlington County, and collects most other County revenue, such as business taxes and water/sewer bills. As part of its duties, the Treasurer’s Office also pursues the collection of all delinquent taxes and fees owed to the County. By collecting what is owed, the Treasurer helps keep your tax bills lower. Today, every 1% increase in the tax delinquency rate would result in a shortfall of approximately $11 million dollars. Since Carla took office, the tax delinquency rate has fallen by 51%, from 0.33% to to the current rate of 0.161%, the lowest in Arlington’s history, the lowest in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and possibly the lowest in the United States. This decline has saved taxpaying Arlingtonians hundreds of millions of dollars.
Investments: The Treasurer safeguards the County’s financial resources, helping to maintain its Aaa/AAA/AAA rating. The Treasurer’s Investment Policy – the first of its kind in Virginia – incorporates the principles of SLY: Safety, Liquidity and Yield, in that order. This policy earns Arlington County one of the highest rates of return on investment by local governments in the Commonwealth of Virginia, while keeping County funds safe and available when needed.
Cash Management: The Treasurer oversees an effective cash management program for Arlington and its agencies. The Treasurer also makes all disbursements for the County, manages the County’s banking relationships, and safeguards the County’s financial resources. As Treasurer, Carla initiated a Request for Proposals for banking services, which resulted in annual savings of $400,000 to the County.
Customer Service: The Treasurer’s Office receives approximately 54,000 phone calls and more than 12,000 emails each year. The office often serves as the face of the County to its citizens. No one enjoys paying taxes. Carla’s goal is to make this task as easy and convenient as possible.
Innovative Programs and Award-Winning Solutions
CAPP – Customer Assessment and Payment Portal: This system allows Arlington taxpayers – individuals and businesses – to file, pay and monitor their accounts on-line. Almost 90,000 Arlingtonians actively use CAPP. Among the services offered by CAPP are:
- Pay by E-check or Credit Card
- Schedule future payments and automatic payments
- Pay your real estate tax in monthly – instead of twice yearly – installments
- Receive email notifications and reminders of debt owed to the county
- Receive email notification of parking tickets
TAP – Taxpayer Assistance Program: TAP helps Arlingtonians meet their tax obligations through short-term loans arranged with a local community bank. The loan is guaranteed by the Arlington County Treasurer so there is no credit check. There is an up-front origination fee of 7.5% and no further interest is charged on the loan. The taxpayer pays back the loan in six to ten monthly installments. Since 2014, over $3,469,450 in TAP loans have been financed.
Taxpayer Outreach: About two days before each semi-annual real estate tax due date, the Treasurer’s Office places automated reminder calls to taxpayers who have yet to make their payments. Each time, this low-cost effort saves many taxpayers hundreds of dollars each in late-payment charges and interest.
As Treasurer, Carla expanded automated reminder calls to taxpayers who owe high dollar car tax. In addition, she initiated an outreach program for citizens qualified for the Real Estate Tax Relief Program to ensure that they met critical deadlines. Both outreach expansions have helped Arlington taxpayers prevent unintentional delinquency, which can be quite expensive.