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City Of Arlington Pondering Potential Washington Cuts

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ARLINGTON (CBS11) - North Texas cities are pondering what a change in Washington will mean for local budgets boosted by federal spending.

At an Arlington City Council meeting Tuesday, elected leaders were briefed on some possibilities that might mean tighter budgets and tough spending choices for large projects.

Arlington City Council
Arlington City Council (Joel Thomas - CBS11)

City leaders don't want to have to tell taxpayers they can't build popular public projects like libraries.

One of the big worries is it will cost more to do projects like Arlington's new library.

"Yeah, we need libraries, for sure," said Arlington resident Jazmon Houston.

Chelsey Payne works at a restaurant right next to where Arlington is building a new library downtown.

"It's close to the college so college students can use it," she said.

Projects like libraries and major street repairs are funded with bond programs which are loans that private investors back. There is a tax reform plan in Washington that would start charging taxes on the investors. Cities say if taxes go up, the cost of projects like the library go up.

"If we did not have the advantage of tax-exempt status on municipal bonds it would cost us more to do the project," Jennifer Wichmann, Arlington's Management Resources Director said. "So the council, if faced with the choice, they could either build less or they can spend more."

And if taxpayers are given a choice between building a library or fixing a street in their neighborhood Payne said she'd go for the road.

"Definitely the road in front of my house," Payne said.

"The street in front of my house because I'll be paying for the tire repair hitting bumps all day," Houston said.

Arlington, like other cities, also relies on federal money for local programs.

"The second part of what we're concerned about are local government projects that could also face some cuts, funding cuts," Wichmann said.

That's $30-million a year Washington sends to Arlington affecting everyone from low-income residents to Dallas Cowboys fans.

"That includes housing vouchers," Wichmann said. "It includes Homeland Security funding that helps us protect folks when they're there. It's called UASIF, Urban Area Security Initiative funding."

Of course, The cities can't know exactly what will happen.

But the council members in Arlington were told Tuesday it's time to start lobbying Washington and potential new power players in the administration to protect the money the city receives.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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