Dear members of the Arlington County Board: Christian Dorsey, Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol, Erik Gutshall, and Matt de Farranti;
Soon you will vote on a proposed incentives package from Arlington County to Amazon for its likely expansion into Northern Virginia. A part of this package is a $23 million subsidy to the company to be paid out over 15 years and funded from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on room stays from hotels and home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, based on performance milestones.
This is such an important issue that two very different political organizations, the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia and Our Revolution Arlington, have come together to urge all of you to reject this proposed $23 million subsidy to Amazon at the upcoming County Board meeting, currently scheduled for March 16th.
Despite our members having very different opinions on Amazon and its expansion into Northern Virginia, with some being optimistic for it, others desiring greater guarantees and community improvements, and some being against it on principled grounds, we can all agree that paying one of the largest and wealthiest companies in the world with public money is fundamentally wrong, unethical, bad economics, and even unnecessary!
There are many reasons
Five years ago, the Arlington County Board was spending recklessly on pet projects such as a lavish aquatics center, a $1 million bus stop, and a streetcar that was continuously skyrocketing over budget, among many others. There was political upheaval, and new County Board members have promised to never make the same mistake. But you are. You are now ignoring immense public feedback at every event and are preparing to rubber stamp everything that Amazon wants with no pushback or modifications to the proposal.
This process risks damaging the good relationship between the County government and its citizens. This shouldn’t be the ‘Arlington Way’.
Arlington prides itself on being an inclusive community and welcoming to immigrants, regardless of legal status. Our public dollars should reflect our values and should not go to a corporation that makes billions working with ICE and supporting their deportation agenda.
Also, since this subsidy comes from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), a.k.a. the “Hotel and Airbnb tax”, it would force people who host through home-sharing platforms and independent motel owners to subsidize Amazon, a company that many of those taxpayers do not wish to support.
Corporate subsidies for big, well-connected corporations are unfair to competitors, especially smaller local businesses that never get those kinds of benefits.
Additionally, the County faces an approximately $20 million budget shortfall for 2021. Why is the Arlington county board giving public money, which is utterly insignificant to Amazon but incredibly important for our own county budgets, for the company to do nothing more than move in?
Regardless of the performance aspect of how this subsidy would be handed out to Amazon based on how much office space they occupy in the Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods, the milestones that Amazon must meet to obtain these public funds are low and easily achieved. Amazon coming in and occupying office space is the entire point of their expansion into Arlington. Why are we paying them to do something they are promising to do anyway?
This amount of $23 million is less than one hour of revenue for Amazon. It’s absurd to think the company would refuse to expand into Arlington based on losing this subsidy. If they want to come, then come. If they walk away, then it shows they were not serious about being good neighbors after all.
Say ‘No’ to the $23 million Subsidy to Amazon
In addition to writing this joint open letter together, we have also begun a social media campaign to bring in voices of the public, your constituents. You’ve heard them at the various town halls, civic association meetings, and other county events, but we fear you’re ignoring them.
Therefore, these people who live or work in Arlington will be reaching out to your official political social media profiles using the hashtag #No23toAmazon in one last attempt to be heard before you rubber stamp Amazon’s deal.
The organizers will also be making a public statement to the Arlington County Board during its scheduled meeting this Saturday, March 16th, when the Board plans on voting on its incentives package, including this $23 million subsidy.
Who we are
This joint open letter statement is released by the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia and Our Revolution Arlington in an unprecedented joint effort. The organizers have also initiated the #No23toAmazon grassroots social media campaign to show that Arlington County constituents are also against this subsidy. The organizers can be contacted for media inquiries or community outreach about this effort during normal business hours.
- Adam Theo: Chair, Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia (LPNOVA) – email@example.com, lpnova.org, www.facebook.com/LPNorthernVirginia, www.twitter.com/lpnova.
- Roshan Abraham: Steering Committee Member, Our Revolution Arlington (ORA) – firstname.lastname@example.org, ourrevolutionarlington.us, www.facebook.com/ORArlington, www.twitter.com/ORArlington.