The Monthly Newsletter from Chairman Sharon Bulova
February 2014

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova 

 

In This Issue
Budget Timeline
School Budget
Transportation Funding
Stormwater
Workhouse Arts Center
Stuff the Bus
Tax Resources
Native Seedling Sale

Tell me what you think!

 

Do you have questions, concerns, or ideas for the County? Contact my office now!

 

703.324.2321 TTY 711

 

chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov

 

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Watch the 2014 State of the County Address 

Chairman Bulova's 2014 State of the County Address

 Recent News

 

Fairfax County Approves $1.4 Billion for Transportation Priorities

 

 Fairfax County Receives Low Interest Rate on Bond Sale

 

Board of Supervisors Approves New Stormwater Management Ordinance

 

Greetings,
  
Lunar New Year celebration, Fair Oaks Mall
On February 1st, I helped to bring a brand new Chinese Dragon to life. The ceremony involved brushing the dragon's nose, mouth and ears with ginger until it snorted a blast of fire. The newly awakened dragon then sprang into action, much to the delight of a huge crowd of children and adults, who fed the dragon red and gold envelopes filled with dollar bills. This activity kicked off a two day Lunar New Year celebration at Fair Oaks Mall. What a great demonstration of the diversity of our Fairfax County community!
 
2014 is the Year of the Horse, which is a very nice sign. In Chinese culture, the Horse is a symbol of nobility, class, speed and perseverance. According to HanBan.com "people born in the Year of the Horse are smart, fabulous speakers who have a gift for getting through to other people."
  

We will need some of those skills, especially the perseverance and communications part, with the advent of budget season. Inside this issue of the Byline is the timeline for release of the Advertised School and County budgets.

Adopting the budget is the most important thing our Board does during the year. When we adopt the budget, we are investing in the priorities and needs of the community. It is critical that we have the community at the table with us when we are considering changes to the budget that the County Executive will release for advertisement at our Board Meeting on February 25th.   There will be many opportunities for you to learn about the budget, ask questions and make suggestions at town meetings and forums that will be scheduled throughout the County during the months of March and April. Online information and material will also be available to you at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/.

I hope you had an opportunity to tune into my 2014 State of the County program which was released last month on Channel 16. It is available to watch on YouTube and my County website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman. There is a lot going on in Fairfax County! During the program you will meet some of our new leadership who bring energy and ideas to the table as we continue to grow and evolve and find ways to address our challenges.

Thanks so much for your continued interest and engagement in Fairfax County. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you during the months ahead!

    

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Sharon Bulova

 

 

FY 2015 Budget Timeline

All public hearings take place in the Board Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035) and are open to the public.  To sign up to speak, please visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speaker_bos.htm or call 703-324-3151.    

School Budget Q & A

Chairman Bulova Answers Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Funding

As the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Process begins in earnest, I thought it would be helpful to provide answers to some frequently asked questions about the County and Schools respective budgets.

 

My colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and I have always considered our public school system our highest priority. Historically, over 52% of the County's General Fund is transferred to Fairfax County Public Schools each year - more than four times as much as we spend on the next largest service category. The pie chart below shows the County's FY2014 General Fund Disbursements.

Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund Disbursements

 

I look forward to working with my colleagues and with our counterparts on the School Board to find ways to continue the excellence of our public school system.

 

1. When will the decisions on the School Budget be made?

 

Schools Superintendent Karen Garza released her Proposed Budget on January 9. The School Board has the option of changing the Superintendent's Proposed Budget. The next step in the budget process is for the School Board to make a formal request to the County by approving its Advertised School Budget on February 6. The County Executive will present an Advertised Budget Plan on February 25.

 

County staff and the Board of Supervisors will reach out to the community on this proposal at town meetings and budget forums throughout March and April. The dates and locations for these meetings will be published on the County's Budget home page.

 

The Board of Supervisors will adopt a budget, including a school transfer, on April 29. The School Board will then adopt a budget for the school system on May 22. All of the milestones in the budget process can be found on the County's Budget Calendar and the Fairfax County Public Schools Budget Calendar.

 

2. Why is the Board of Supervisors reducing funding to Fairfax County Public Schools?

 

Actually, the Board of Supervisors directed the County Executive to draft a budget which would increase the school transfer by two percent.

 

Despite lingering economic challenges from the Great Recession, sequestration and the federal government shutdown, the Board of Supervisors has continued to increase the school transfer in recent years. Over the past five years, the Board has increased the school transfer by more than $90 million.

 

3. Why hasn't the Board of Supervisors enacted a meals tax to generate additional revenue for Fairfax County Public Schools?

 

Under Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors does not have the authority to enact a meals tax. A referendum approved by a majority of county voters is required. The County did put a meals tax to referendum in 1992 but it was not successful. The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes a meals tax and has vowed to come out strongly against it if it were put on the ballot again. The County's Department of Management and Budget recently provided a report to the School Board and the Board of Supervisors on the history and legal requirements of the meals tax.

 

4. Are there opportunities to identify efficiencies and savings for Fairfax County Public Schools by engaging an independent auditor?

 

I support the creation of an independent auditor position which reports directly to the School Board. The Board of Supervisors recommended the School Board hire an independent auditor when we adopted our FY2013 and FY2014 Budgets.

 

The Board of Supervisors established an Auditor to the Board in 1998. This small office works independently from the County Executive and his fiscal staff. Our Auditor has identified millions of dollars in efficiencies and reductions, and I feel that the School Board would find this opportunity similarly beneficial.

 

5. Why doesn't the Board of Supervisors make reductions to the school budget instead of increasing student-teacher ratios?

 

Per the Constitution of Virginia, the School Board has authority over how the budget for the school system is spent and which programs and positions are funded. The Board of Supervisors does not have 'line-item' authority over items in the Fairfax County Public Schools Budget.

 

Increasing student-teacher ratio, class sizes or eliminating teacher positions would not be my choice for reductions.

 

Fairfax County Approves Transportation Funding

 

After a comprehensive public outreach process in which residents participated in a productive dialogue with county transportation staff, the Board recently approved $1.4 billion in transportation project priorities over the next six years. This funding will go toward new and existing roads, sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes. There are approximately 180 projects that will be funded, not including reserve funding for other projects. The county will be developing schedules for each project in the coming months.

Of the total amount approved, about $1.2 billion will come from state and regional transportation dollars generated by HB2313, the transportation bill passed during the 2013 General Assembly session, during the next six years, and the remaining amount will be funded through the county's commercial and industrial property taxes, general obligation bonds, and other sources.

 

The 2013 transportation law  allocates transprotation dollars raised through a package of taxes and fees to Fairfax County, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the entire state. These funds are largely administered through the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and state transportation agencies. The board's action sets the county's priorities for this funding.

 

While there are no easy solutions to our transportation challenges, this approval moves the county forward in easing congestion and making travel easy and accessible for residents. The action the board took will pay off enormously in the long run.

 

New Stormwater Management Ordinance

 

Fairfax County Stormwater Management
Fairfax County Video: Explanation of Stormwater Management

As required by the state, the Board adopted a new stormwater ordinance at its January 28th meeting to limit polluted runoff from large construction projects. The new rules will help protect stream channels and water quality by placing a cap on the amount of stormwater and pollutants that enter our waterways.

The new ordinance aims to capture and treat runoff closer to its source. The rules will result in a greater use of rain gardens, green roofs, infiltration and other low impact development techniques to deal with runoff from new development. These methods better mimic nature by slowing, reducing, and reusing stormwater runoff.

 

Even though Fairfax County has had stormwater rules in place since the early 1970s, the state mandated the new ordinance to ensure a consistent statewide standard for stormwater management practices. As a result, about 90 percent of the County's new ordinance consists of these state rules. The law won't directly impact most existing homeowners. In fact, if the law were enforced today, more than 90 percent of existing residential infill building projects would not be affected by the new requirements.

 

To develop its new ordinance, the County sought input from developers, environmentalists, civic groups, individuals and others. This year-long collaborative process allowed the new rules to balance these diverse concerns while working within the state-mandated framework. In adopting the new stormwater ordinance, our board has exercised responsible environmental stewardship to protect our watersheds and stream valleys and to preserve the Chesapeake Bay.

 

For more visit the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services webpage.

 

Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton

 

In 2002, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was offered a valuable opportunity to purchase 2,440 acres of federal land at a very low cost ($4.2 million). This property was the site of a former prison workhouse, a 56 acre site in Lorton.

 

Lorton Reformatory Aerial View

The Lorton Reformatory, originally known as The Occoquan Workhouse, first opened in 1910, two years after President Theodore Roosevelt ordered a penal commission to investigate overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at the District of Columbia jail. When it was new the Lorton Reformatory served as a pioneer in corrections, helping non-violent offenders to master a trade, work in the outdoors to learn farming and to turn their lives around. The attractive Colonial Revival brick buildings were constructed by prisoners. The Workhouse is a remnant from the progressive reform movement and has been designated a historic landmark.

 

Sadly, the prison became a blight on the community during the latter part of the 1900's when more dangerous prisoners were sent to Lorton from the District to serve time. The community was elated when a decision was made by Congress in 1998 to close the prison. Congressman Tom Davis, who had previously served as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, arranged for a transfer of the prison site and surrounding lands to the County. An intensive community planning process followed to adopt a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the area. Because of the site's historic designation, there are many federal restrictions on the way the land can be used.

 

Workhouse Arts Center, Present Day

 A creative solution to this challenge was found in 2006, when the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement to allow a community group, The Lorton Arts Foundation (LAF), to renovate and convert the former prison workhouse into an Arts Center. The Foundation went about their mission to stabilize and preserve the workhouse historic site and to establish a positive community amenity to the South County area by ways of arts programming. Funding came from operating revenues, donations and bank loans to pay for renovations.

 

Since then, the Workhouse Arts Center has served as a prime example of adaptive reuse and revitalization within the County. It has improved the quality of life for area residents, provided vibrant cultural and recreational events and activities, and preserved the site's significant historic legacy.

 

I have personally attended many successful workshops, fundraisers, and events at the Workhouse, most notably Fairfax County's annual SpringFest, an event that drew thousands of people in celebration of Earth Day/Arbor Day. The Workhouse has been able to adaptively reuse County owned land to provide exciting services to Fairfax County residents.

 

However, like many non-profits and businesses alike, the LAF has not been immune to the economic recession and slow recovery. Simply put, the past few years have proven an intensely difficult time to raise money for the arts, and the Workhouse Arts Center's operations have not generated enough revenue to cover expenses, especially the debt it incurred for capital renovations. While the financial issues associated with the Workhouse are unfortunate, the Board of Supervisors has elected to preserve the Workhouse as an important community amenity. The Lorton Arts Center Board will be reconstituted and strengthened with closer County oversight. Issues related to LAF indebtedness, under this settlement, will be resolved.

 

By preserving this important cultural and historic landmark our Board remains true to the community's efforts to maintain and improve and a quality of life that will serve County residents in the long-term.

 

For more information, see Fairfax County news release.

 

Stuff the Bus

  

Stuff the Bus is a partnership among Fairfax County Government, local grocery stores, and non-profits that helps Fairfax families who continue to go hungry after the holiday season when donations drop to one of the lowest points. Please join us as we collect food donations to assist the most vulnerable in our community. Each week a Fastran bus staffed by MV Transportation personnel will park at a different location and collect food donations.

All donation hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information on Stuff the Bus, please visit the program's website.

February 8

Fairfax Walmart

11181 Lee Highway

Fairfax, VA 22030

 

Village Center at

Dulles Shoppers

2425 Centreville Road

Herndon, VA 20171

 

Stuff the Bus Food Drive 2013
Stuff the Bus Food Drive 2013

February 15

Falls Church Giant

1230 W. Broad St.

Falls Plaza

Falls Church, VA 22046

 

Mt. Vernon Plaza Shoppers

7660 Richmond Highway

Alexandria, VA 22306

 

February 17

Cardinal Forest Giant

8320 Old Keene Mill Rd.

Cardinal Forest Plaza

Springfield, VA 22152

 

Kingstowne Giant

5870 Kingstowne Blvd.

Alexandria, VA 22315

 

Tax Resources for Residents

 

It's that time of year again and Fairfax County has helpful resources you can use to prepare your 2013 Income Taxes. Federal and State income tax forms can be found through the County website and the deadlines are as follows:

 

Federal Income Tax: April 15

Individual State Income Tax: May 1

Corporation Income Tax: 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the corporation's taxable year.

 

Free income tax preparation is available for those making less than $52,000.

As a reminder, Fairfax County also provides tax relief for Personal Property and Real Estate taxes. Relief is offered to seniors (65 and over) and/or permanently disabled persons who meet the income and asset eligibility requirements.

For more helpful information and contact numbers, please visit the County website.

Native Seedling Sale

Each year the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District holds its seedling sale to provide an inexpensive source of seedlings for Fairfax County residents. Seedling packages go on sale each year in January and are available for pick-up in mid-April. All seedlings are native to Northern Virginia and come in two packages: 1) the bare root shrubs and small trees package for $16.95 and 2) the bare root trees package for $11.95.

 Trees and shrubs help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air. Consider adding native trees and shrubs to your community today!  

Purchase Now: 2014 Seedling Sale Order Form 

Proceeds help support Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District education programs including stream monitoring, Envirothon, and storm drain marking. For more information visit the NVSWCD website.