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Town Hall on Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Heading to Herndon

This month marks the beginning of Fairfax County’s fiscal year 2020 budget process. Locals in the Hunter Mill District can attend a town hall in Herndon on the first Saturday of March to get more information on the proposed budget plan.

Projections expect the county’s revenue to grow by 2.9 percent, generating more than $156 million in additional revenue for FY 2020, according to the county.

The town hall is set to take place from 8:30-11 a.m. on March 2 at Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center (2709 West Ox Road).

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, County Executive Bryan Hill, County and Fairfax County Public Schools staff will give the presentations, according to Hudgins’ newsletter.

After coffee and a conversation starting at 8:30 a.m., the elected officials and county staff will be available to answer questions.

The next steps in the budget process include posting the proposed tax rates, followed by public hearings in April held by the county’s Board of Supervisors.

The FY 2020 fiscal year begins on July 1.

Image via Fairfax County

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Town of Herndon Boards Consider New Outback Steakhouse, Walls at Chestnut Grove Cemetery

Updated at 8:55 a.m. — Corrects Outback Steakhouse location.

The Herndon Town Council and two of its boards held work sessions this week, taking up proposals for a new restaurant building, a massive mixed-use development and more.

Possibly soliciting public comment during the development of the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2020 was discussed at a Town Council work session on Tuesday (Feb. 5). The Town Council is set to take up the resolution next week on Feb. 12.

That same work session also held a public hearing on a comprehensive plan amendment for plans to revamp the South Elden area.

The Architectural Review Board on Wednesday (Feb. 6) discussed plans for a new Outback Steakhouse. (There’s one currently at 150 Elden Street.) The plan calls for a new 6,525-square-foot single-story commercial building and 82 parking spaces on an undeveloped site with 1.46 acres across from the Herndon Centre.

The board also continued the conversation about Penzance Properties’ redevelopment project, which would add three buildings in three phases at 555 Herndon Parkway.

The Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board previously provided dozens of suggestions and areas that needed improvement for the project, which is the first of its kind for Herndon. The Planning Commission will continue its consideration of the development plan at its public hearing set for Feb. 25.

Penzance’s redevelopment isn’t the only proposal that has hit some snags lately.

The Heritage Preservation Review Board held a public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 6) revised plans for Aslin Beer Co.’s planned tasting room and bar at 771 Elden Street, which has recently faced design hurdles.

According to a staff report, the original application for the tasting room had a proposed deck area on the second floor that would inadvertently cover a stormwater management easement. The revised design takes away the deck, yet adds new elements that the staff report says need clarification.

“The Town and the applicant are working collaboratively to resolve this issue and a revision to the previous HPRB approval is being required as a component of this effort,” the report says.

Ira Saul, an attorney representing Aslin Beer Co., sent Community Design Planner Christopher Garcia a letter on Jan. 14 saying that all of the required materials have been submitted for the application to move forward at the Feb. 20 HPRB meeting.

“My understanding with [the Town Attorney] is that we are in a position to proceed with the HPRB application in tandem with the building permit revision, so that construction can begin expeditiously,” Saul wrote.

Later in January, the beer company told Alexandria Living Magazine that it plans to open a production facility and a 3,500-square-foot tasting room in the city’s West End neighborhood.

The board also held a public hearing on a proposal to add new retaining walls around a mausoleum and create new garden seating walls at the Chestnut Grove Cemetery (831 Dranesville Road).

The proposed retaining wall with an iron top rail is meant to minimize erosion, drainage and aesthetic issues, while the garden wall is set to be two feet high and be constructed in three separate segments, according to the staff report.

The Town Council is set for a public session next Tuesday (Feb. 12).

Images via Google Maps and Town of Herndon

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Digital Device Initiative Heading to FCPS High Schools This Fall

A new digital initiative is aiming to start in the county’s public high schools this fall for the 2019-2020 school year.

FCPSOn provides students with access to a device to use for learning, which each student can access at school and may be able to take home, based on the school and grade level. The initiative supports the FCPS Strategic Plan, which includes access to contemporary and effective technology as a component of the “Student Success” goal.

The Fairfax County School Board directed Superintendent Scott Brabrand to incorporate necessary funding for FCPSOn’s expansion to all high schools in his fiscal year 2020 proposed budget, South Lakes High School Principal Kim Retzer wrote in an email to the school’s community.

“It will help ensure they have equitable access to technology and to instructional practices that support their development of Portrait of a Graduate attributes including communication, collaboration and critical thinking,” Retzer wrote. “Employers will expect these skills, along with tech fluency and innovation, from tomorrow’s workforce. FCPSOn helps prepare students to meet those demands.”

The 2020 proposed budget sets aside $4.3 million to implement FCPSOn in high schools.

“The financial model for FCPSOn takes an approach of sustainable funding that includes shared cost between schools and central offices as well as student user fees. Funding and a new staffing formula will support an additional [18.5 positions],” according to the budget.

The budget includes a new technology fee of $50 per student per year for grades nine through 12 beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Meanwhile, students eligible for reduced meals will pay a reduced fee of $25 per student and students eligible for free meals will no fees. Overall, the fee is expected to generate $2.2 million in revenue.

FCPSOn launched during the 2016-2017 school year to all of the schools in the Chantilly High School pyramid and five high schools that receive funds as part of the Virginia Department of Education e-Learning Backpack Grant. Phase 1 included a total of 15 schools and was funded through a combination of FCPS and the VDOE e-Learning Backpack grant funding.

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Del. Ken Plum: Thank You, Gov. Ralph Northam

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

By the time you’re reading this Gov. Ralph Northam will have made his annual speech to the House Appropriations and the Senate Finance Committees to advise them of any changes he proposes to the biennial budget of the Commonwealth.

While the complete list of adjustments that he will propose to a budget that was passed nearly a year ago had not been made public when this column was written, we do know from public announcements some of the proposed changes that he is going to make, specifically in funding education. That is why I think he deserves a hearty holiday “Thank You!”

The Governor has proposed an additional $39 million in new money for investments “to ensure safe learning environments for Virginia’s K-12 students.” Of that amount, $36 million will be used as the first installment of a three-year, phased plan to reduce school counselor caseloads to 1:250 from its current 1:425. The additional $3.3 million will go to the Virginia Center for School Campus Safety to train school staff in maintaining safety in schools.

As the Governor explained, “Taking steps to provide additional support to students, raise awareness about suicide, and ensure students, school professionals, public safety personnel and community members are equipped with appropriate training and intervention skills are critical to a holistic school safety strategy.”

To recruit and retain the best teaching talent to the Commonwealth, Governor Northam has announced that he will seek an additional $268.7 million in new money for K-12 education that will among other improvements fund the state share of a 5 percent raise for teachers effective July 1, 2019. That is an increase over the current budget that would have funded a 2 percent raise.

The additional money for public schools includes $70 million for programs for at-risk students targeted to schools with the highest concentration of students eligible for free lunch to provide dropout prevention, after-school programs, and specialized instruction. An additional $80 million will be a one-time deposit to the Literary Fund which is a method by which the state helps poorer school divisions fund school construction.

As explained in a press release from the Governor’s Office, “Altogether, the budget proposals reflect the Governor’s commitment to ensuring that every Virginia student, no matter who they are or where they live, has the same access to a quality education.”

Even with these needed additional funds, the state share of education will continue to trail its pre-2008 economic recession level. With the slow recovery over many years that kept state revenues low, local governments have had to increase their funding to schools at the expense of other local needs. The proposals that the governor is making will help move the state back to a more equal partnership with localities in funding schools and hopefully to a 60 to 40 sharing of costs of state and local funding that had been envisioned for schools.

Gov. Northam deserves a big thank you for giving priority to funding programs for our children and their education. That is about investing in our future!

File photo

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Reston Association Set to Consider Assessment Fee, Budget Tomorrow

Reston Association is set this week to hold a vote and the second public hearing on next year’s budget.

This upcoming meeting will focus on approving the second year of the 2018-2019 budget at the public meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive) after the first year of the budget was approved last year.

Larry Butler, RA’s acting CEO, presented his recommendations for the budget at a public hearing last Thursday (Nov. 8). RA board and staff created three drafts of the budget, using 2018 as a baseline.

During the budget process, the RA board directed the association’s staff to increase employee health insurance contributions and to reduce expenses by passing credit card convenience fees along to the cardholder. The association trimmed roughly $300,000 from the initial budget estimates from an earlier draft, according to a Nov. 1 press release.

“This year’s budget was shaped primarily through a wide range of cuts in operating expenses,” the press release said.

If approved, the proposed budget would increase members’ assessment fee by $11, setting the rate at $693. The first draft would have set the annual fee, which helps the association maintain pathways, facilities and recreational areas, at just over $700. Last year’s totaled $682.

The board is also requesting $40,000 from cash reserves to reinstate staff training and $17,545 for staff recruitment and “market rate adjustments for difficult to fill positions,” according to meeting materials to be presented to the board.

After the new assessment is set by the board, RA will mail assessment packets to residents with information about the fees and funding. The payment will be due Jan. 1.

The draft agenda for the meeting is available online.

Photo via Reston Association/Reston Today

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Wexton, Democratic incumbents celebrate Election Day victories — Local voters also turned out in numbers the surpassed recent midterm elections. The Fairfax County Office of Elections estimated a 69.7 percent turnout for the general election, up from 45.7 percent in 2014. [Fairfax County Times]

DMV2Go in RTC today — The wireless office on wheels will offer DMV services today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the pavilion. Services include driver’s license and ID card applications and renewals, driving records, decals and more. [Reston Town Center]

Reston Association budget hearing, assessment increase proposal tomorrow — RA will hear comments from members about its plans to increase assessments by $11 at a hearing tomorrow (Thursday). [Reston Association]

Robert Sapolsky to speak at CenterStage tonight — Sapolsky, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, will speak tonight. His lectures touch on topics like stress, baboons, the biology of individuality, memory aggression and schizophrenia. Tickets are sold out but the box office will maintain a waitlist today for any returned tickets. [Reston Community Center]

Photo by John Pinkman

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Friday Morning Notes

Budget to increase Reston Association’s assessment fee by $11 — After hashing out several drafts of the 2019 operating and capital budgets, next year’s assessment fee is proposed to include an $11 increase, setting the rate of $693. [Reston Today]

A big win for the governor — Roughly 400,000 newly eligible low-income adults in Virginia can start enrolling in Medicaid, scoring a major win for the state’s Democratic governor. [WTOP]

Get your absentee votes in — Tomorrow is the last day for in-person, absentee voting. Ten locations are available for voting. [Fairfax County Government]

Daylight savings and Metro — Time changes are likely to change how you do things this weekend and that applies to Metro service as well. [WTOP]

Photo by David Toms

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How to Address Three Common Financial Mistakes

Provided by Matthew Cash with Baird Wealth Management.

Through my years as a Financial Advisor, I’ve met with dozens of people. Many of whom want to confirm that what they’re doing is correct. Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen…

They haven’t changed their investments in years — This is common with 401(k)’s & Rollover IRA’s. They may have met with an advisor or someone at a bank or discount brokerage firm. And that person helped get them into the right investments (hopefully).

They get a statement every month with the person’s name on it. And other than a few hiccups here and there, the account has shown steady growth. So why should they change?

Imagine you originally started with a portfolio of 60% stocks & 40% bonds. If stocks grew 7% every year & bonds 3%, after five years your portfolio would be comprised of 65% stocks & 35% bonds.

You’ve unintentionally increased your portfolio risk. All while moving closer to retirement.

They do it themselves (there may be some overlap here with the previous example. Especially with 401(k)’s) — Despite having a full-time job, this person wants to handle their investments on their own. And like the previous example, they think it’s been working.

Unfortunately, the average investor underperforms the market by about 2% per year. And if they think they can beat the market, they’re probably wrong. In fact, most professional active managers underperform their respective benchmarks in the long run.

On a $500,000 portfolio, underperforming the market by 2% adds up to about $110,000 over a 10-year period.

They hold too much cash — Holding a lot of cash makes people feel secure. It never loses value. And they may even earn a few dollars on it every month. What’s the problem?

Unless you’re earning 2% interest on your cash, you’re actually losing money due to inflation. And, as mentioned in the previous example, 2% can add up to a lot. Some cash in your portfolio is ok, as long as it’s part of a financial plan.

So, what should you be doing?

Have a formal financial plan. One that answers the following questions:

1. What is the probability that I will achieve my financial goals?

Knowing this is critical. And it should be the first thing an advisor helps you to determine. It is a specific number. And once you know the answer, you can move on to the second question:

2. Can I increase the probability of achieving my financial goals?

Whether it be reallocating to the proper investments, changing the order of what you’re funding, or changing how you’re spending, you can likely increase your probability of success.

This, along with adjusting for any life-changing events, and rebalancing your portfolio when necessary, can lead to success.

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Anchored by Downtown Development, Herndon’s 2019 Budget Boosts Spending

The Herndon Town Council passed a $60.2 million budget for next year, a nearly 18 percent increase over last year.

The budget package, which was approved Tuesday night, holds the line on taxes. The general fund budget increased moderately by 1.7 percent to $35.2 million.

A significant portion of the spending boost is tied to the development of downtown Herndon and vehicle and pedestrian access improvements.

The budget includes $2.7 million for improvements on Van Buren Street and Herndon Parkway, $730,000 for improvements at the intersection of Herndon Parkway and Spring Street and $900,000 for improvements at the intersection of Elden Street and Monroe Street. An additional $500,000 is included for downtown parking and an arts facility.

Local officials are considering adding a second story to the Herndon Community Center to create more space for fitness activities and storage. The project also includes plans to upgrade locker rooms and a reconfigured entrance to address issues with HVAC system in the current lobby.

Funding for a 4,000-square-foot nature center at Runnymede Park is also included in the budget.

The complete budget will be available online by July. 1

File photo

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Del. Ken Plum: The Other Branch of Government

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Legislators who were in Richmond on April 13 for the Special Session to complete work on the biennial budget interrupted their work on April 18 for the Constitutionally required Reconvened Session commonly referred to as the “veto session.” In 1980 the State Constitution was amended to provide that on the sixth Wednesday after the adjournment of a regular session the General Assembly is to reconvene “for the purpose of considering bills which may have been returned by the Governor with recommendations for their amendment and bills and items of appropriation bills which may have been returned by the Governor with his objections.” Prior to the establishment of a reconvened session, a Governor could veto bills without concern that the vetoes would be over-ridden.

Governor Terry McAuliffe set a record with nearly a hundred vetoes all of which were sustained by the General Assembly even if by the narrowest margin. Governor Ralph Northam has exercised his veto powers on eight measures that are highly unlikely to be challenged with the almost even distribution of partisan representation in both the House and Senate. A two-thirds vote is required to pass legislation without the Governor’s approval. In the case of Governor McAuliffe and now Governor Northam, vetoes by the other branch of government–the executive branch–have kept the General Assembly from enacting some of the more divisive laws on social issues proposed by extremely conservative legislators.

Two of the bills Governor Northam vetoed related to voter registration records that would unnecessarily burden the registration and voting process under guise of preventing fraud and abuse. Virginia has not had a problem with voting irregularities; the state’s problem has been to get more people to vote since Virginia has among the lowest levels of participation in the nation. Efforts to make it easier to vote such as “no excuse” absentee voting have been defeated in the General Assembly.

The Governor vetoed three bills that would limit the powers of local government when the local governments are in the best position to know what would best serve the people of a locality. One bill would have prohibited local governments from requiring contractors to pay more than minimum wage for work for the locality and another would interfere on local governments establishing property tax rates for country clubs. A bill that would prohibit “sanctuary cities” of which there are none in Virginia was also vetoed.

The Governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited state participation in adopting regulations on carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs thereby limiting Virginia’s ability to deal with climate change. He also vetoed a bill that would have allowed legislators to change legislative district lines between the federal census dates.

In considering bills passed by the legislature, all of which must be signed by the Governor to become law, the Governor can propose amendments. Of the dozens of amendments proposed by Governor Northam, most are technical corrections in language passed in the fast pace of the legislative session.

After the likely one-day Reconvened Session is adjourned, the General Assembly will return to the Special Session to complete the budget. I believe there will be good news to report on the budget very soon!

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Map It Out: If You Plan to Succeed, You Need to Plan

If you want to achieve your most cherished goals, you have to make your money work hard for you — and that means putting together a systematic and attainable plan.

According to many financial experts, the success of a long-range savings and investment plan is predicated not on the rate of return, but on the use of a systematic plan.

A financial plan, a central component to any comprehensive investment process, can help you avoid expensive financial mistakes that can seriously damage your financial health, including taking on too much debt, not saving enough and placing too much of your financial assets in investments with a high level of risk.

A Comprehensive Investment Process

In developing a comprehensive investment plan, you need to start by gathering information. By taking a careful look at your assets and liabilities, insurance coverage, how long you have to save for retirement and the tax status of your various accounts, you can better prepare for your future.

As you are reviewing your current financial situation, you will want to identify issues and opportunities. Depending on where you are in your financial life cycle, you may have specific short- and long-term goals to consider.

  • During the Wealth Accumulation phase, as you are gathering and building assets, you may also be establishing your career and family, planning for your children’s education and saving for retirement.
  • During the Wealth Distribution phase, when you have built a strong portfolio of assets, you may be considering retirement, purchasing a second home, helping your children financially and developing an estate plan.
  • The Wealth Transfer phase represents the culmination of a successful strategy as you prepare to transfer your wealth to your heirs and favorite charities in a tax-advantaged way, both during your life and at death.

All of this information should be factored into your financial plan. A Financial Advisor can evaluate where you are financially and help you plan for the future.

Next, you and your Financial Advisor need to develop an investment strategy to put your financial plan into action.

This strategy should consider risk vs. reward, proper asset allocation and portfolio diversification. Together, you and your Financial Advisor can develop a plan designed to minimize risk and maximize opportunities that can help you reach your goals.

Once your plan is designed, you need to implement it. Your Financial Advisor will help you choose quality investments to put your strategies to work.

Regular reviews of your investment plan help ensure that your asset allocation and investment strategies continue to meet your changing needs.

Article approved by Robert W. Baird & Co. for Matthew Cash, Financial Advisor at the Reston office of Robert W. Baird & Co., member SIPC. Matt has 9 years of financial services industry experience, and can be reached at 571.203.1677, or [email protected]. Robert W. & Co. does not offer tax or legal advice.

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Tomorrow: Local Meeting on Fairfax County’s $4.3 Billion Budget Proposal

Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have a chance tomorrow to weigh in on the fiscal year 2019 budget.

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill proposed the $4.29 billion general fund budget in February. The proposal would raise the residential property tax rate from $1.13 to $1.155 per $100 of assessed value.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold a town hall on the proposal tomorrow at South Lakes High School from 7-9 p.m.

During the public meeting, Hill will discuss his proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as the county’s financial forecast. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions following county presentations.

Photo via handout

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Bundles of joy at Frying Pan Farm Park — You now have two more reasons to visit the park. Elle delivered two lambs earlier this week. [Fairfax County Parks]

Coming up: town hall on the budget — County Executive Bryan Hill will discuss his budget proposal for the next fiscal year at South Lakes High School on March 8 from 7-9 p.m. [Inside NOVA]

Reston-based Appian expands –– The software company is racking up more revenue and dropping some hints about its headquarters. [Washington Business Journal]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Members Needed for Hunter Mill District Citizen Budget Advisory Committee – Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is seeking members for the committee which meets from January through March to offer recommendations to the supervisor about the budget. Hudgins will appoint several members. To express interest, send a resume to [email protected] [Fairfax County Government]

Ellucian Picks New CEO — The Reston-based company, which provides software and services for higher education management, selected Laura Ipsen as the CEO. Ipsen previously worked as a general manager and senior president for Oracle Corp.’s cloud marketing division. [Washington Business Journal]

Community Holiday Performances at Fountain Square Tonight — Musical performances continue today at Fountain Square. Sunrise Valley Elementary School’s chorus will perform carols today from 6:30 – 7: p.m. Fountain Square is a 760,000 square foot mixed used project located in Reston Town Center. [Reston Town Center]

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Thursday Morning Notes

RA Board of Directors To Set Next Year’s Budget Tonight — Reston Association’s board of directors will meet at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters to discuss a broad swath of motions, including capital and operating budgets for next year. The meeting can be viewed live here[Reston Assocation]

Purchase Poinsettias for South Lakes High School Seniors Graduation Party — Decorate your home and office this holiday season with poinsettias. SLHS is raising money to finance an all-night seniors graduation party. Orders must be received by Nov. 21 and will be ready for pick-up from SLHS on Dec. 1. Medium bundles are $15, large bundles are $25 and a hanging basket is $30. [SLHS]

Cleveland Browns Sign Reston Native Deon King to Active Roster — The 6-0, 220 pound second-year player out of Norfolk State was originally signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in four games for the browns this season while spending five weeks in the practice squad. [247 Sports]

Drones on Parkland: What Do You Think? — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking public input on the possibility of expanding the use of drones on county parkland. During the first half of the year, the authority launched an internal study on the topic. Currently, drone pilots can take off and land at Poplar Ford Park only. The authority is considering expanding to other parks. The meeting will take place on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Oak View Elementary School. [FCPA]

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