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by Dave Emke — February 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm 13 Comments

Proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget

Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have their chance on March 4 to weigh in on the proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget.

County Executive Edward Long presented the $4.1 billion proposal to the county Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting. Each supervisor is holding local meetings to get community input on its details.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold her summit Saturday, March 4 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Frying Pan Farm Park visitor center (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon). In addition to the budget presentation and a speaker, the event will also include a “build-a-budget” workshop that Hudgins said would help residents understand what has to be done with the funds available.

In her response to Long’s proposal to the board Tuesday, Hudgins said the state has made it difficult for Fairfax County to “control [its] own destiny.”

“It is troubling when we have to return our value to the state in the way that we do,” Hudgins said. “When you think about that, it is daunting to have our citizens look to us and think that we actually do control it, and we don’t.”

Hudgins said a lack of diversity of revenue for the county, caused by an “inability to break through the stronghold that is in the general assembly,” is forcing some residents to be priced out.

The cost of living here, it does increase, and many of those seniors that I talked with at a senior group [Monday] are saying, ‘I have to move if I want to stay in a place that is affordable for me,'” she said. “We are going to have a lot of discussion from people on that conversation.”

Following their community meetings, supervisors plan to present their changes to the executive’s recommendations on April 25. The budget is scheduled to be adopted May 2.

Hudgins will be joined at the March 4 budget session by Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco. Residents interested in attending are asked to RSVP to [email protected].

Chart via Fairfax County FY2018 budget presentation

by Dave Emke — January 26, 2017 at 11:30 am 9 Comments

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins/Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

A Fairfax County Board of Supervisors public hearing on Reston transportation projects set for Feb. 28 will address the projects’ funding plan. Questions asked about the project Tuesday prior to the board’s vote to approve the hearing, however, concerned design issues.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District) raised a number of questions for Tom Biesiadny, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, regarding concerns he has with the plan itself.

“If you take some of the costs out of the project, the impact on both the citizens and the new businesses would be less,” Herrity said.

The overall project — which includes road widening and upgrades to intersections and interchanges, in addition to construction of new Dulles Toll Road crossings — is estimated to cost in excess of $2.2 billion.

Reston Transportation Funding Plan

Herrity asked Biesiadny about a proposed Town Center Parkway underpass of the Toll Road, projected to cost $170 million. Herrity inquired why an underpass was determined to be more cost-effective than an overpass.

“Because of the topography, the Toll Road actually sits above the intersection of Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills,” Biesiadny explained. “You would be starting below the Toll Road and having to go up and over it, as opposed to tunneling under it.”

Herrity also had a number of concerns about the proposed Soapstone Drive overpass of the Toll Road, among them the structure of the lanes in the proposal. The plan calls for two driving lanes on each side of the bridge with a two-lane left-turn area, becoming four lanes of traffic across the overpass.

The idea is that we would only want to go over the Toll Road once, so you would provide some additional capacity should you ever need it in the future,” Biesiadny said.

The four lanes over the Toll Road would be a total of 36 feet wide. The plan calls for 33 1/2 feet of space for pedestrians and bicyclists, another figure that Herrity questioned.

“So we’re going to have as much room on that bridge for bikes and pedestrians as we are for car traffic,” he said, asking for data to back up the need.

Biesiadny said projections have shown there will be a large amount of foot and pedal traffic across the connector.

Given its location adjacent to the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station, we do think there is going to be a significant number of people using bikes and pedestrians to access the station, as well as the development that will be occurring around there,” he said.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said the community has decided that increased walkability and access for bicyclists is important to the future of transportation.

“What you will see in this project, and I think what the community has been stressing, is the compactness of the transportation infrastructure. That is, you see fewer turn lanes because, guess what, pedestrians require attention from those on the road in order to safely traverse those areas and make the connectivity. I think the most important part about it is… the value that this returns to the overall community in the way that we build the transportation infrastructure and land owners can actually construct the development. If we make a mistake there, it becomes not well used and thus not a return in value to the community and those who own the land.”

The public hearing on project funding was approved by the board and scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Screen capture of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins speaking at Jan. 24 meeting, via Fairfax County website

by Dave Emke — January 20, 2017 at 10:30 am 6 Comments

Graphic via Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will discuss a proposed February public hearing on the funding plan for Reston transportation projects.

County Executive Edward Long has recommended the board hold a public hearing on the plan Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 4:30 p.m.; the board will vote at its meeting next week (Tuesday, Jan. 24) whether to do so.

According to information provided in the agenda for the Jan. 24 meeting:

The Board of Supervisors (“the Board”) authorized the Reston Master Plan Special Study on May 18, 2009, and directed staff to initiate Phase I of the study, which is a review of Comprehensive Plan recommendations pertaining to the areas around the three planned Reston Metrorail stations: Reston Town Center Station, Wiehle-Reston East Station and the Herndon Station (Reston Transit Station Areas).

In Fall 2009, a community Task Force of 41 members (25 primary and 16 alternate) was appointed for the Phase I effort by the Board of Supervisors (Reston Master Plan Special Study (Phase I)), which included representatives of Reston resident groups, owners of commercial property in the study area and other interested members of the community. Working with staff, the Task Force was charged with evaluating existing Comprehensive Plan recommendations and identifying changes to guide future transit-oriented development (TOD) in the vicinity of the three Reston stations.

The Task Force and several sub-committees met regularly from 2010 through 2013 to consider approaches to further TOD development at the stations. Subsequently, the Task Force worked with staff to finalize their recommendations which were finalized at their meeting on October 29, 2013.

On February 11, 2014, the Board of Supervisors adopted an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan for Reston, based on the results of the Reston Master Plan Special Study (Phase I). When the Board adopted the Comprehensive Plan amendment for Phase I of Reston, it also adopted a follow-on motion to address funding of associated transportation projects. The funding follow-on motion requested that staff and the Planning Commission develop an inclusive process to prepare a funding plan for the transportation improvements recommended in the Reston Master Plan and return to the Board with its recommendations at an appropriate time.

Staff not only recognizes the significance of the Reston Transit Station Areas (Reston TSAs), but also recognizes that improvements in the Reston TSAs must be balanced with needs in other areas of the County. Staff has taken this need for balance into consideration in staff’s recommendations to the Board.

The project is expected to cost in excess of $2.2 billion.

Table via Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

A community meeting to discuss the plan was held Thursday evening.

The recommendations to fund the project include the following:

a) Allocate public funds through future board actions such as endorsing a funding plan, a future transportation priorities plans, or other actions of the board.

b) Create a Reston Transportation Road Fund over the Reston TSAs with the following rates that is intended to collect approximately $211 million (as adjusted for inflation).

a. Residential per Dwelling Unit Rate: $2,090

b. Commercial per Square Foot Rate: $9.56

c) Establish a Transportation Service District over the Reston TSAs that is intended to collect approximately $139 million (as adjusted for inflation).

a. Service District Rate per $100 of assessed value: $0.021

d) Adjust the Reston Transportation Road Fund rates and Transportation Service District rates in a manner that is consistent with the Code of Virginia, the County’s budget cycle requirements, and cash flow need.

e) Prioritize projects periodically; and,

f) Evaluate the Reston Transportation Funding Plan on a periodic basis to ensure that the funding contribution levels are sufficient, the funding available is being allocated effectively, and projects are proceeding on schedule.

g) Establish a Reston Transportation Service District Advisory Board to provide input on the annual tax rate for the proposed Service District, the transportation project priorities for those projects funded all or in part by the tax district, and project implementation schedules. In addition, the Reston Transportation Service District Advisory Board may also provide input on the annual adjustment of Road Fund rates related to the Grid Network and Intersection Improvements.

h) The Service District and Road Fund will both have sunset provisions to ensure that once the projects identified in the Reston Phase I Comprehensive Plan Amendment are completed, any debt has been paid in full, and any other obligations incurred by the Service District or Road Fund have been satisfied, the Service District and the Road Fund will terminate. Staff will establish the sunset provisions accordingly for each fund and as allowed by state code.

Specific public revenue source and associated revenues may vary over the life of the plan, according to information provided by the board, but public revenues from existing sources are projected to be available to fund the total amount of improvements.

Table courtesy Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Private revenue sources are expected to include $716 million in in-kind contributions, $211 million from the Reston TSA Road Fund and $138 million in service district contributions.

According to the board agenda item:

The proposed Reston Transportation Funding Plan addresses the $2.27 billion (in 2016 dollars) need for infrastructure improvements to support the recommendations in the Reston Phase I Comprehensive Plan Amendment. The proposed plan allocates roughly $1.2 billion of the improvements over 40 years from public funds – federal, state, local, and regional funds that are anticipated for countywide transportation projects. Approximately $1.07 billion of the improvement costs will be raised from private funds – sources of revenue that are generated within the Reston TSAs and used exclusively for transportation projects in the Reston TSAs; this will require creation of a service district fund and County road fund project for management of revenues. It is anticipated that a fund for the service district will be created in FY 2018, and a new project will be created in Fund 30040 (Contributed Roadway Improvements) for the management of these Reston road fund contributions.

The next Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax).

Graphic and tables courtesy Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

by Jennifer van der Kleut — December 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm 12 Comments

Vornado's Wiehle Reston East development, photo via KTGY Group and Studio Landscape ArchitectureThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved the rezoning of nearly 12 acres of office space near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station along with Vornado Realty Trust’s plans for its transformation.

The area, adjacent to the Metro station at Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive, will be redeveloped by Vornado into 1.5 million square feet of residences, hotels, restaurants and retail. Washington Business Journal first reported on the approval yesterday.

The nearly 12 acres have long been zoned as industrial. With Vornado’s redevelopment plan, three existing six-story office buildings will remain, but the rest will be transformed into a live-work-dine-shop destination for those who want to be close to Metro and Reston’s busy business corridor.

The development will include a seven-story building that will fit up to 200 residences, another 24-story building that will fit up to 300 residences, a new 22-story office building of more than 350,000 square feet, and a new 14-story hotel that will feature around 175 rooms, according to Vornado’s application as reported by the county.

These new buildings will be among some of the tallest in Reston.

Occupants of the new development will have access to both the north and south sides of the Metro station, from Sunrise Valley Drive via Commerce Park Drive. Retail and dining businesses would be on ground floors of the buildings and would aim to minimize car use.

The plans also include a total of 1.5 acres of open space, with small parks, bicycle tracks and a promenade along the businesses, and will feature public art including a water feature.

Residents of the development will also be Reston Association members, and therefore would have access to the pools, tennis courts, event and recreation opportunities that come with membership.

by Andrew Ramonas — December 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm 3 Comments

Fairfax County Police The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will appoint a group of residents to look over police complaints and internal probes as part of a new effort to increase transparency in the area’s law enforcement, according to local officials.

In a 9-1 vote today, the board approved the creation of an independent Police Civilian Review Panel, which will receive Fairfax County Police Department misconduct allegations from the public and examine FCPD internal investigations. The panel will have nine appointees, who can serve up to two, three-year terms.

“Establishing a Police Civilian Review Panel is a historic step in the right direction toward increasing trust and transparency between police and residents,” board chairman Sharon Bulova said in a statement.

The board’s vote came after the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission called for the panel in an October 2015 report to county supervisors. Although Bulova established the commission following a fatal police-involved shooting in 2013, the new panel won’t handle matters concerning potentially criminal uses of force by cops.

Supervisor Pat Herrity, who was the only board member to vote against the panel, said it creates “a lot of serious problems,” including an “uncertain fiscal impact” and police staffing issues.

“The creation of this panel will take our police off the streets at a time when they are in high demand already,” he said in a statement.

by Jennifer van der Kleut — October 31, 2016 at 11:30 am 1 Comment

Lincoln at Commerce Park/Credit: Fairfax CountyTwo major projects near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station are up for discussion at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow.

The proposed Lincoln apartment complex at Commerce Park Drive and the Lofts townhomes at Reston Station are on the agenda for about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Wiehle Station Ventures LLC is seeking to redevelop a surface level parking lot across the street from the Sunrise Valley convenience center and, beyond that, Reston National Golf Course, into a 260-unit Lincoln apartment building at Commerce Park, Association and Sunrise Valley drives. The property is also close to Soapstone Drive, where a future toll road crossing is planned.

Lofts at Reston Station/Credit: Fairfax County

The Board of Supervisors also is set to consider the design concept for the Lofts, in which Pulte Homes would redevelop a one-story industrial building at 1825 Michael Faraday Court into 44 residences.

The parcel is about one-third of a mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The development and the Metro stop eventually will connect through interior streets, including an extension of Reston Station Boulevard, plans show.

Though the Planning Commission has recommended approval to the Board of Supervisors, the concept has not been without issues.

Hunter Mill planning commissioner Frank de le Fe said he feels the project attempts to jam too many residences into too little land, as the plan calls for fitting 12, two-by-two townhouses into less than two acres.

Other issues brought up had to do with the configuration of open space, the amount of surface parking, the design of a pocket park and the lack of landscaping connecting to public space.

Images via Lincoln At Commerce Park, Lofts at Reston Station, Fairfax County.

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by Karen Goff — October 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Crane at new residential construction in RestonReston is changing at a fast clip — with several large development projects in progress and more than a dozen new applications in the pipeline.

Concerned Reston residents say they want to know about those projects in an equally speedy manner.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning held a public meeting at Reston Association Monday in which they spelled out how the development process works, from application to final approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Even though the development process can take years, the citizens in attendance complained about a lack of opportunities for community engagement earlier in the process.

“The planning process is making me crazy,” said longtime Reston resident Tammi Pettrine. “In reality, citizens have no power against the county.” (more…)

by Karen Goff — September 16, 2016 at 10:00 am 6 Comments

Planned location of RP 11720/Credit: Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Planning Commission has recommended for approval a plan to tear down a 1980s office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Drive and replace the building with 54 townhomes.

Rooney Properties’ plan now moves on for final approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, most likely in October.

The decision came at the planning commission’s Wednesday meeting, about two months after a public hearing on the project. The commission said then had some concerns with driveway size, garage size and delivery accessibility for Rooney Properties’ plans.

Office building at 11720 Sunrise Valley Dr.Since the 11720 project’s July hearing, the applicant went back and updated the development plan to show designated delivery area in the southwestern corner of property.

The planning commission and the county planning staff also had an issue in July with Rooney’s lack of proffers to provide transportation demand management (TDM) such as traffic lights.

The proposed project sits just across Roland Clarke Place where another Rooney property, the Marcel Breuer-designed former headquarters of the American Press Institute. That building, also owned by Rooney, is in the process of being torn down to make way for way for 34 townhouses and 10 condos.

Photos: Location of project, top; Existing office building, bottom.

by Karen Goff — July 27, 2016 at 10:00 am 44 Comments

Former API Building

After a campaign by architectural archivists and historians to save and repurpose the Marcel Breuer-designed former American Press Institute building in Reston, the building learned its fate Tuesday night.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allow developer Sekas Homes to demolish the 42-year-old Brutalist building and construct in its place 34 townhomes and 10 condos.

Interior of API BuildingHunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said while she appreciated the efforts to save the building at 11690 Sunrise Valley Dr., the building did not have historical designation and was not in a historical overlay district.

The supervisors’ mission is to stick to judging an application on “meeting the criteria set forth in the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance for this area and supported by recommendation of approval by Department of Planning and Zoning,” she said.

While a DPZ staff report recommended approval for the redevelopment, the Fairfax County Planning Commission did not. (more…)

by Karen Goff — July 27, 2016 at 8:35 am 20 Comments

Farewell, Tall Oaks Village Center as a retail spot. Welcome, Tall Oaks Village Center as a mostly residential neighborhood.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors took an unprecedented step for Reston development on Tuesday when it unanimously approved Jefferson Apartment Group’s (JAG) proposal to rezone, rebuild and transform the smallest of Reston’s village centers.

JAG will now go forward with plans for 156 homes (a mix of townhomes, 2-over-2 townhomes and multifamily buildings), community space, 8,500 square foot of retail and about 6,000 square feet of office space.

“We are very excited about the approval and the chance to rejuvenate a shopping center that has been fallow for a number of years,” said JAG CEO Jim Butz. “This will be one more nice neighborhood for Reston.”

Butz said he estimated the retail site plans and permitting will be processed in the next nine months. Because the retail space will be located in existing free- standing buildings on the property, that will enable a smooth transition for current retail tenants who desire to stay at Tall Oaks.

The residential permitting process will take about 12-14 months, Butz said. Construction would begin sometime after that.

Tall Oaks’ longtime challenges have been a location on a dead end and lack of visibility from a main street. Its longtime anchor tenant, Giant Foods, moved out in 2007 and vacancies have been mounting since.

JAG representatives have said the property was marketed to retailers in the last several years but there was little interest in locating there as more than five major retail centers featuring a grocery anchor are located within a few miles.

More recently, the developer conducted a market study that showed large retail was not viable at Tall Oaks, which is now only 13 percent occupied.

“This has been a very difficult center to remodel or upgrade,” said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who lives in the Tall Oaks area. “The hope I have is JAG is able to provide what is necessary to provide that.”

JAG paid $14 million for the property in 2014 and has held numerous meetings with the community since then. After noting community concerns, JAG has added green space and additional retail space to its original plan.

But many in the community were still not in favor of a complete overhaul for Tall Oaks. Some residents still maintain that retail would thrive at the center if it were properly managed. (more…)

by Karen Goff — July 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm 3 Comments

Excelsior Parc/Credit: Lerner Enterprises Nearly six years after being approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors — and then virtually halting plans to move forward — there is some action on Lerner Enterprises’ Excelsior Parc project.

The Excelsior Parc will include 457 residential units in two buildings on Reston’s Oracle campus near the intersection of Sunset Hills and Reston Parkway.

The project was first proposed in 2oo6 and was sent back from the county several times for changes that were finally approved by the supervisors in 2010. The Fairfax County Planning Commission had recommended denial of the plan for two 15-story towers because they seemed out of scale with Plaza America, Reston Parkway and surrounding areas.

However, a lot has happened since 2010. The Reston skyline has come to include The Harrison, Midtown, BLVD and plans for a 23-story office tower, among other buildings. So 15 stories seems rather modest.

But that is not why the developers are back before the supervisors. The buildings had originally been approved for 820 underground parking spaces. The developers are seeking a reduction in parking of 16.4 percent, which must be approved by board.

The County Executive recommends the supervisors approve the reduction based on an analysis of the parking requirements. He has recommended 612 spaces, including 58 designated for guests.

Part of the reason for the change is the Metro. The property is about a half-mile from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station and about the same distance from the future Reston Town Center Station, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

The Excelsior is planned to have 212 studio/one-bedroom units;  202 two-bedroom unites; and 33 three-bedroom units.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss and vote on this on Tuesday.

No word on when the construction will begin.

by Karen Goff — June 22, 2016 at 2:45 pm 12 Comments

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at Feb. 29, 2016 meetingThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday to allow up to 5.0 FAR — a mark of high density — in 22 areas of the county close to Metro stations.

The ordinance establishes a maximum FAR of 5.0 for Transit Station Areas and a maximum FAR of 4.0 for Commercial Revitalization Districts, (CRD), Commercial Revitalization Areas (CRA), and Community Business Centers (CBC).

The board also passed an amendment introduced by Supervisor John Foust (Dranesville), that says the McLean area can only build up to a 3.0 in its revitalization and community business district areas. Foust said allowing high density building in McLean would alter the area’s traditional smaller-town character.

While the vote for increased FAR (Floor-Area Ratio) sounds like skyscrapers are on the way, it isn’t, the supervisors reiterated.

Allowing maximum density, particularly in areas close to Metro or in need of revitalization, gives future developers flexibility, said Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova.

(more…)

by Karen Goff — June 21, 2016 at 2:45 pm 3 Comments

Fairfax County logoThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to authorize the addition of bond questions to the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

If approved, part of the $312 million in bonds will go for various county improvements, including a contribution for Metro equipment and the replacement of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter in Reston.

Building a new shelter is already in the plans for the Reston Town Center North Area. A new shelter is likely to be located close to where the current one is located on Bowman Townr Drive. The bond money would provide $48 million for Embry Rucker, as well as several other county shelters.

Voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on three bond questions totaling $312 million for transportation, parks and human services.

The supervisors’ vote allows the county to petition the Circuit Court to order the referendums. Under state law, the county must petition the court to put a referendum on the ballot.

If approved by Fairfax County voters, the money is intended to provide:

  • Metro boost: $120 million to help pay for the county’s share to Metro’s capital improvement program that includes safety and system maintenance projects, new rail cars and power upgrades for running eight car trains, additional buses for operating Priority Corridor Networks, and rail station improvements to increase the capacity of the system’s infrastructure.
  • Parks improvements: $107 million to fund priority needs identified in the county Park Authority’s needs assessment ($94.7 million) and sustain the county’s capital contribution to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority for another four years ($12.3 million). Reston-area parks such as Lake Fairfax Park would benefit from the general countywide improvements.
  • Social Services: $85 million to replace the Sully Senior Center and a new Lorton Community Center ($37 million) and renovate, expand or replace the Patrick Henry, Embry Rucker, Eleanor Kennedy, and Bailey’s emergency shelters for people who are homeless ($48 million).

Two weeks ago, the supervisors authorized a meals tax question to be added to the General Election ballot.

Fairfax County voters will be asked to authorize a 4-percent meals tax for county areas that do no currently have one (including Reston). A meals tax is expected to add about $100 million to the county annually, about 70 percent of which would go to Fairfax County Public Schools.

by Karen Goff — June 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm 10 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on Tuesday changes that will add amenities and parking to Reston’s future tallest building.

Even though the 23-story tower at 1760 Reston Parkway has been approved since 2012, don’t look for construction to begin any time soon. Developers are waiting until major tenants have signed leases before beginning construction.

When they get there, tenants will find views from the roof — 115 feet higher than any of Reston’s current buildings — to the Blue Ridge and D.C. as well as a seventh-floor outdoor park.

A rooftop terrace is planned as an amenity for tenants of the building. It will be surrounded by a 35-foot tall glass screen wall with an opening on the west side to shield the space from strong winds; it will be constructed of aluminum and steel supports and clear glass.

The terrace will include outdoor seating; a trellis structure on the west side of the rooftop to provide shade for outdoor seating; an enclosed event space serviced with restroom and pantry facilities; and a 2,500-square-foot vegetated green roof. (more…)

by Karen Goff — June 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm 38 Comments

Ted's Bulletin at Reston Town Center The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 on Tuesday to add a meals tax referendum question to the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

They say they are now prepared for a real fight on both sides of the issue, but ultimately it will be up to Fairfax County voters whether the 4 percent tax gets implemented in summer 2017.

The addition of a meals tax has been discussed for years, but was last put to referendum in 1992, where it failed.

However, the county is continually finding itself in an annual budget crunch, particularly as the needs of Fairfax County Public Schools are growing. The board says it will allocate 70 percent of the nearly $100 million annual expected meals tax revenue to the schools, with the remainder going for county services.

About $3 million of the nearly $100 million in revenue would go to back to restaurants/businesses to offset costs of implementing the meals tax, the county says.

The supervisors’ transfer to the schools was $2 billion this year.

Several supervisors said prior to Tuesday’s vote that they would like to see more specifically what the schools will do with the money. Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, a proponent of the meals tax, made a motion to delay the vote until after a joint retreat with the school board, which is scheduled for next week. The motion failed.

Still, several supervisors said the schools need to show a good faith effort in how they spend the extra money. FCPS teacher pay continues to lag behind neighboring counties, and Supervisor John Cook (Braddock) said “we are at a tipping point on needing to bring teacher pay up to market.”

“If I hear [the schools] say they are spending the money on an elite, special program and not on teacher pay, then I will campaign against it,” said Cook. “I am not happy about a meals tax. I worry about local places without a liquor license and a high profit margin. But it is time to have a dialogue.” (more…)

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