City Council Meeting Digest

Posted on: March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017 Regular Meeting


Fiscal Year 2018 Budget and Capital Improvements Program Proposal
The City Manager and Chair of the School Board presented the proposed FY2018 Budget and CIP. All budget documents are available at www.fallschurchva.gov/Budget. The proposal includes:

  • Proposed 1 cent increase on the real estate tax rate to cover Schools increase request;
  • Proposed 3 cent increase on the real estate tax rate to start saving for major CIP projects like the new high school. Tax rate increases will be needed to build a new high school -- anywhere from 6 cents to 18 cents, depending on the project -- so a relatively small increases over the next few years will alleviate one large increase; more savings helps with the City's bond rating, which helps get better deals for bonds, which will be needed for the new high school project. The money received from this proposed tax rate increased would be marked for the major CIP projects.
  • A 4 cent increase on the real estate tax rate would mean an additional $262 for the median home of $657,200.
  • Proposed 1% increase in the hotel tax (from 7% to 8%), which should mean an additional $60,000 in revenue for commercial district improvements light lighting, planters, and signage.
  • Of note, the City's obligation to WMATA increased again -- up 64.8% ($505,193) for a total contribution of $1,284,675. To help cover this and other increased annual costs, the City government departments were held to their FY2014 actuals, and then asked to reduce more.

There was no action taken by City Council at this meeting. There are six upcoming budget meetings for Council and two public engagement events: an Open House on March 20 and a Town Hall on April 2. See the budget calendar for details.

Budget Amendment for Mt. Daniel Elementary School Project
The School Board requests an increase for the Mt. Daniel Elementary School Expansion and ADA Renovation project in the amount of $2,653,000. Of that total, the School Board requests a transfer of $901,818 from other school CIP projects and $235,100 from the School Board operating budget. The remaining $1,516,082 would be from new funds.

In FY2014 and FY2015, the Council appropriated $15,600,000 towards the Mt. Daniel Renovation and Expansion project. To date, $2,830,428 has been expended against the project, leaving a remaining balance of $12,769,572. The new request for an increase is a result of an increase in construction and labor costs and changes to the project based on Fairfax County requirements. (The land is owned by Fairfax County.)

The City Council passed a motion to grant first reading and schedule a second reading and public hearing for March 27.

Hillwood Avenue Land Sale
The City and the owner of 357 S. Washington Ave (currently housing the Red Top Cab Company) have agreed to terms on a transfer of 7,519 square feet of the right-of-way, with a reservation of a temporary easement for the construction of the City’s upcoming streetscape project over that property. The land being sold by the City is currently under easement to Red Top Cap, to allow this private business to use this portion of the right-of-way for vehicle parking and access to their building.

The City Council authorized the sale on second reading.

Streetscape Design Standards
A Streetscape Task force of community members, civic organizations, staff, boards and commissions, and City Council members was chartered in Mary 2016. The group met eight times and collaborated to compile a set of guidelines for street furniture, tree planters, cross sections, crosswalks, materials, utilities, public art, maintenance, and more. These guidelines would be for commercial "great" streets (e.g., Broad Street and Washington Street) and civic "great" streets (e.g., S. Maple Avenue and Park Avenue) -- not every street in the City.

The City Council adopted the resolution. Next, the City Code will need to be amended to reference the new standards and amend zoning code for setbacks.

Support of Redistricting Reform
Under current law, the Virginia General Assembly redraws district lines for the U.S. Congress, the Virginia House of Delegates, and the Senate of Virginia after every 10-year census. Under the current system, it is possible for the party in power to draw the lines in a way that serves partisan interests. This can have the result of fewer competitive districts, and has been noted by some experts as contributing to political polarization in the US Congress and the General Assembly. These and other concerns have led to a call for non-partisan redistricting reform nationally and in the Commonwealth.

The City Council passed the resolution.

Other Business
  • The City Manager was authorized to award a contract for new playground equipment for Cherry Hill Park.
  • Update on High School Campus Project: The Campus Working Group completed the "scope of work" for the school feasibility study. The Economic Working Group is working on a "scope of work" for a market study for economic development.

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