2016 Employee of the Year
Public Works Crew Leader Joe Dowling has been named the 2016 City of Falls Church Employee of the Year. The citizen-led Employee Review Board selected Dowling for his work during Winter Storm Jonas, the creation of a mini-park on Rolling Road, and several department office moves. Dowling has worked for the City for 36 years. He was nominated by his supervisor, Robert Goff, and three department directors. For more on Joe's accomplishments, visit the Employee of the Year website and watch this fun video.
Budget Amendment for Mt. Daniel Elementary School Project
The City Council adopted the ordinance to appropriate an increase of $2,143,000 for the Mt. Daniel Elementary School project (6-0, Mr. Snyder was absent). Of that amount, $901,818 will be transferred from two School related CIP projects and $235,100 will be transferred from the School Board operating budget. The remaining $1,006,082 will be funded through new funds. The increase request was a result of an increase in construction and labor (due to a project delay).
Vision Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan
The City Council unanimously adopted the proposed Vision statement:
"In the year 2040, the City of Falls Church is a welcoming and inclusive community – a special place in the heart of Northern Virginia. Involved citizens are key to the City’s long-term success as a leader in education, environmental sustainability, multi-modal transportation, and vibrant economic development.
"By investing in neighborhoods, community services and facilities, schools, and parks the City preserves small-town character and history while honoring a deep commitment to progress and a growing community. The continual rejuvenation of robust commercial areas supports the City's high quality of life for all citizens."
The Vision Chapter provides an overarching picture of what the City wants to be over the next 25 years. The Vision Chapter is part of the City's Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan serves as a guide for all aspects of planning and development. The Vision Chapter was last updated in 2005, and much had changed in the City since then.
Fiscal Year 2018 Budget and Capital Improvements Program Discussion
The City Council held a public hearing on the proposed FY2018 Budget and CIP. All budget documents are available at www.fallschurchva.gov/Budget. As a refresher, 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.
City Council passed a motion to advertise the tax rate for $1.355, which is a four cent increase from the current fiscal year. This does not set the tax rate; rather, it gives notice to the public that this is the highest possible amount the new tax rate could be next fiscal year. The City Council could vote for that rate or a lower rate, but not a higher rate. (Budget adoption is expected on April 24.)
There are two more City Council meetings where the budget will be discussed
- Monday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Room: Work Session (no public comment)
- Monday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers: Regular Meeting (public comment and hearing; anticipated budget adoption)
Consent for an Agreement with City of Fairfax for a Police Firearms Training Center
The City Council unanimously agreed to authorize the City Manager to sign an agreement with the City of Fairfax (6-0, Mr. Snyder was absent). The agreement commits the City to $1,200,000 for a new Fire Arms Training Center and for a proportionate share of maintenance expenses going forward, which is estimated to be $16,000 per year.
The Firearms Training Center has been a critical component of the training programs of the police and sheriff’s departments. This has been a very useful and effective partnership for over 30 years, allowing public safety personnel to maintain their required firearms training certification. The current facility is rapidly aging and cannot be renovated. The project requires a teardown and rebuild from the slab foundation.
A cost share formula was developed based on the number of officers and sheriff deputies required to be certified on fire arms. Alternatives were considered, such as partnering with other jurisdictions.
Construction is anticipated to begin by July 2017 and will be completed by early spring 2018.