Prior to the Democratic primary last month, a controversy over Comstock’s campaigning restrictions prompted local elected officials to push back against the developer’s longstanding policy at Reston Station Plaza.
But there has been little movement on the issue in recent days.
In a June 7 letter, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova threatened legal recourse against Comstock, which she said was unfairly restricting public access to the property and possibly infringing on First Amendment rights. The county’s Commonwealth Attorney and the local American Civil Liberties Union also stepped in.
Bulova’s chief of staff Clayton Medford told Reston Now that Bulova plans to meet with Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, to discuss access issues.
“The county is committed to looking into public spaces issues countywide to ensure members of the public have equal access,” Medford said.
No meeting has been scheduled yet. Clemente did not return requests for comment from Reston Now.
The issue stemmed over access to Reston Station Plaza, which was built through a public-private partnership.
Two candidates running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor complained about Comstock’s policies.
The plaza is atop the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
Photo by Fairfax Connector
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Fairfax County Chairwoman Sharon Bulova is pushing back against Comstock’s restrictions on campaigning at Reston Station Plaza.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to Chris Clemente, Comstock’s CEO, today, Bulova said she was very shocked and disturbed to learn that Comstock was unfairly restricting public access to the property.
The company has allowed Maggie Parker, its vice president of communications and also a candidate for the Hunter Mill District Seat, to campaign on the plaza, Bulova said.
“Allowing one’s own employee to engage in such highly protected activity in a public area, while excluding other candidates from doing the same, is clearly wrong and cannot be tolerated,” she wrote.
But Parker says that she has not campaigned at the plaza because of Comstock’s policies.
“I think the letter is unfounded because I don’t think the chairman has all of the facts,” Parker said. “I am doing nothing that the other candidates are not able to do. I am tired of being bullied and I’d like to step forward with the elections and the people’s business.”
The free speech issue has sparked recent debate on the legality of the developer’s longstanding policy to bar soliciting, including electioneering and campaigning, at the plaza.
Bulova has directed the county’s attorney to evaluate legal remedies against Comstock, noting that the plaza may constitute a public forum. As a result, free speech rights may be violated.
“As the county attorney completes her research and the board evaluates its legal remedies, I ask Comstock to do the right thing without necessity of legal action,” Bulova wrote.
Several candidates running for the seat of Hunter MIll District Supervisor and residents have told Reston Now they’ve been told to leave the plaza after attempting to distribute campaign materials or campaign.
Laurie Dodd, a candidate who was concerned about the policy after friends campaigning for other candidates were told to leave the property and apply for a permit, pushed state and local officials to take a stance on the issue. Although the state and county’s election bodies said the issue was not within their jurisdiction, Dodd said Bulova was open to discussing the matter. At her request, the American Civil Liberties Union took the matter to Bulova’s office.
Walter Alcorn, also a candidate running for the seat, also expressed concerns about restrictions on campaigning at the plaza.
In previous days, county officials told Reston Now that state election law allows campaign activities on the property, but declined to discuss the issue further. The plaza was constructed through a public-private partnership and Comstock leases the plaza from the county through a 99-year ground lease, according to the county.
Clemente told Reston Now that its policy is out of respect for Metro commuters and others who come to Reston Station. He previously noted that he was open to scheduling a candidate meet-and-greet on the plaza as an exception to the policy.
Here is the text from my letter: pic.twitter.com/4vW5kGc49x
— Sharon Bulova (@SharonBulova) June 7, 2019
This story will be updated.
Reston Developer Focuses on Affordable Housing in Campaign for Board Chair — Timothy Chapman, one of four Democrats running to succeed Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, says expanding affordable housing is a key component of his campaign platform. Chapman grappled with homelessness growing up and is the co-founder of BrunoClay Management, a construction contractor based in Vienna. [Fairfax County Times]
Herndon Police Department Says Goodbye to K9 Leon — Leon was medically retired in February after losing a battle to cancer on Thursday. [Herndon Police Department]
Review: Another Reason to See ‘Annie’ by Reston Community Players — “There’s an old adage in performance that you should never work with children or animals since they tend to steal the show. Reston Community Players do not shy away from this challenge with their excellent production of the musical ‘Annie,’ now playing at the Reston Community Center through May 18.” [Reston Community Players]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ motion to “indefinitely defer” the consideration of a proposed zoning amendment.
The zoning ordinance has been a hotly debated issue among Restonians.
It would have increased the maximum allowed population per acre in the Planned Residential Community (PRC) district — Reston’s primary zoning district — from 13 persons to any number up to 15, along with allowing residential development at a density of up to 70 dwelling units per acre in certain areas.
“There are those in the community who do not support this change to the PRC density because they do not support redevelopment of the village centers and are concerned about future growth in Reston,” Hudgins told the board before the vote. “There is also concern that this PRC amendment will somehow support residential development on one or both of the two golf courses in Reston.”
Hudgins also said that misinformation has plagued the push to update the zoning ordinance and thanked the staff for their work educating the community.
“I had hoped that we could have found a way to provide the necessary zoning tool to implement the adopted Reston Plan,” Hudgins said.
Hudgins said that she will work with staff and community representatives to outline a process and timeframe to reexamine the plan for the village centers before reconsidering the PRC amendment — the Planning Commission’s suggested solution.
The vote came shortly after noon on Tuesday (March 5) during the board’s meeting.
Chairman Sharon Bulova told Hudgins that she understands the PRC amendment has been difficult for her and the Reston community.
“This is not easy, and I know that folks have asked for the opportunity to maybe step back and try to revisit the process that will allow things to move forward in a way that has more community engagement and more community support for a path forward,” she said.
Photo via Fairfax County
Despite strong opposition to hedgehogs as suitable pets, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved adding them to the list of commonly accepted pets, along with chinchillas and hermit crabs.
Yesterday’s decision ends a nearly 20-year-long push to legalize the prickly animals as pets.
Strong concerns about pet owners’ abilities to care for them dominated the public testimony before the supervisors voted.
While hedgehogs seem trendy, that doesn’t mean they are ideal pets, Christine Anderson, a member of the county’s Animal Services Advisory Commission, said. She then listed several reasons, including their risk of spreading salmonella, their high maintenance care and potential animal abandonment.
Others argued that it’s not so much the animals, but rather the humans who are the main problem.
Chris Schindler, the vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C., argued that exotic animals often suffer from poor care, highlighting a disturbing news report about 15 hedgehogs found in a trash can in Ocean Beach, Calif.
After the novelty of the impulse purchase wears off, people often don’t like hedgehogs’ noisy, aggressive and destructive behaviors, he said.
While several supervisors acknowledged the potential risks for hedgehogs and humans, ultimately they argued that people armed with resources and education can make the right pet ownership decisions.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said she cautiously supports the proposal. “This has come to us quite a few times, and with that in mind, maybe it is time,” she said, adding that she wants to the county to monitor the impact of the change.
Hedgehogs first popped up in a proposal to add them to the list of commonly accepted pets in 2001, Casey Judge, a senior assistant to the county’s zoning administrator, said in a presentation. Ever since then, the county has continued to receive inquiries from residents about them, she said.
Fairfax County now joins Loudoun County with allowing all three pets. Meanwhile, Arlington County only allows chinchillas and hedgehogs.
Fairfax City and Falls Church either do not allow or are unclear about the three animals.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society. Judge said that care for chinchillas is similar to rabbits, while care for hedgehogs is similar to ferrets.
Two students argued in the animals’ defense, saying that other pets, such as lizards, also require special care and that their pet care costs are comparable to dogs.
The student from Longfellow Middle School said that breeders ensure that future owners have the training and resource materials needed to help them take care of hedgehogs.
In response to Gina Marie Lynch, from the Human Society of Fairfax County, saying that hedgehogs breed like rabbits, the student said that hedgehogs will fight if left in the same space. “If you don’t want babies, don’t keep a male and female together.”
The student from Sandburg Middle School pointed out that the county won’t have to worry about escaped or abandoned hedgehogs becoming an invasive species. Since African pygmy hedgehogs can’t hibernate, they would not survive the cold weather.
While the three animals are unique pets that require special care, Chairman Sharon Bulova said that she does not expect everyone to go out and buy them.
“I frankly don’t think that this action will open up a floodgate of many, many situations where people will adopt a hedgehog or a chinchilla, but some people will,” Bulova said.
Images via Planning Commission and Kelly W.
The announcement came shortly after 11:30 a.m. during the Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Her planned retirement adds to list of supervisors who have also said they are leaving.
Hudgins, who is nearing the end of her fifth term, was first elected to the board in 1999.
Her colleagues on the board took to Twitter shortly after the announcement to share the news and praise her work.
Chairman Sharon Bulova, who announced her plans to retire in December, tweeted that Hudgins “will be sincerely missed when she retires from the Board at the end of 2019.”
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity posted — and then deleted — a tweet saying, “At today’s Board meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has announced that she will not seek re-election. It was a pleasure serving with her and I wish her the best on her future endeavors.” A few minutes later, he wrote, “At today’s Board meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has announced that she will not seek re-election.”
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the chairman before Bulova, tweeted that Hudgins has been a “tireless advocate for the Hunter Mill District,” pointing to her work on affordable housing.
Thank you to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins on her decades of service to Fairfax County. She will be sincerely missed when she retires from the Board at the end of 2019.
— Sharon Bulova (@SharonBulova) January 22, 2019
Cathy Hudgins has been a trainblazer and an advocate for Hunter Mill District and Reston for many years. We wish her the best in her retirement and look forward to great things for the rest of the year!!! https://t.co/DMNiSbDKDm
— Bill Bouie (@bbouie) January 22, 2019
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has been a tireless advocate for the Hunter Mill District. She’s been a champion for affordable housing and has dedicated her career to making sure every voice is heard in our community. I'm proud to call her a friend and wish her well in her retirement.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) January 22, 2019
Two Democratic candidates have already joined the race for her seat, Reston Now previously reported.
Shyamali Hauth, a United States Air Force veteran and community advocate, has her campaign focused on transportation, affordable housing, construction practices, budgets, security and education systems. Parker Messick, a recent graduate of Roanoke College, is running on a platform to “stop big development.”
The election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5.
There’s plenty to do around Reston this weekend in addition to the many events for Reston’s 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration.
If you’re looking to avoid the cold weather, plenty of indoor activities are scheduled for this weekend.
Tomorrow (Jan. 19)
Stuff the Bus (9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) — Head Herndon’s Fox Mill Giant (2551 John Milton Drive) to support Helping Hungry Kids as a part of “Stuff the Bus,” which takes place at various locations around the county to benefit local nonprofit food pantries. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova will join the event at 11 a.m. to assist with the food collection and also discuss the county’s resources for people impacted by the federal government shutdown.
Fantastic Films at Reston: A Wrinkle in Time (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) — The Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) plans to show the 2018 movie, which is based on the classic book by Madeleine L’Engle, with warm cocoa.
“Time Stands Still” auditions (1-4 p.m.) — The Reston Community Players is looking for people to come audition for a show that examines the lives of one couple making a living out of documenting the horrors of war. The auditions, which will be held at 266 Sunset Park Drive in Herndon, will consist of cold readings provided that day. Auditions will also be held at the same time and place on Sunday.
Chess club (1-2:30 p.m.) — Locals can learn chess from experienced instructors at the Herndon Fortnightly Library (768 Center Street).
Sunday (Jan. 20)
Crys Matthews performance (2 p.m.) — Matthews, a singer-songwriter from Herndon, is scheduled to perform her songs at CenterStage at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets cost $15 for Reston residents.
Winter Restaurant Week ends (all day) — Sunday is the last day for locals to enjoy prix fixe menus at the four Reston restaurants that are participating in Winter Restaurant Week.
Photo via Reston Community Players/Facebook
On Dec. 6, Chairman Sharon Bulova revealed her plans to retire after her term ends Dec. 31, 2019. That same day, Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, a Democrat, announced his intention to succeed her, the Fairfax County Times reported.
Now, Chapman has joined the race to become the county’s next chair with a Facebook post on Tuesday (Dec. 18) indicating that he plans to run as a Democrat.
Chapman wrote in the post that he wants to offer an “alternative path” to bring changes to one of the country’s wealthiest counties.
“[The county] has settled for effectively ignoring a crisis in affordable housing, sending its children to school in trailers, for not paying our teachers and firefighters and police officers what they deserve, and for the horrific traffic that imprisons us in our cars and steals away precious moments with our children and families,” he wrote.
The post also says the following:
As far as my political views, through the years I have voted for and donated to Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Now, I am so disgusted by today’s out of the mainstream Trum-publicans that I realize the only successful path forward is the compassion of a strongly progressive Democratic platform. It’s essential that we fight for the little guy against often rigged politics which seem to benefit the wealthy and well connected, while leaving those hard working families who are the backbone of Fairfax County to struggle to make the everyday choices that many of us take for granted.
My own life experiences have taught me to have an overwhelming, unwavering compassion for the less fortunate. I know what it feels like to be judged rather than understood, to experience the pain, fear and anxiety of being homeless. But I have also enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, an inherent privilege which afforded me the opportunity for a second chance and another second chance. Without question, I have worked hard for every step forward I have accomplished, and I own every step backwards I have caused myself, but to ignore or deny this privilege would be like denying climate change. I am living proof that with grit and determination, one, if provided the opportunity, can overcome obstacles and succeed beyond their wildest dreams. I now live in Vienna with my wife and our 5 children. I’ve built a successful affordable housing development company. I chaired the Virginia Housing Development Authority at the request of Governor McAuliffe.
Records from the Virginia Public Access Project show that Chapman has indeed donated to politicians from both sides of the aisle. He gave $50,000 last year to Democrat Tom Perriello and $15,000 in 2013 to Republican Kenneth Cuccinelli for both men’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns.
Other donations include $15,000 to Ralph Northam’s gubernatorial campaign and then $25,000 to Northam’s 2018 inaugural committee.
Back in 2005, he gave $4,000 to Republican Sean Connaughton’s unsuccessful bid to become the state’s lieutenant governor.
His Chapman Development bio says he has “an extensive background in multi-family development and tax-credit communities” and that he served in the 3rd U.S. Infantry’s Presidential Honor Guard.
The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.
Photos via Fairfax County/Facebook and Tim Chapman/LinkedIn
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova announced today (Dec. 6) her plans to retire after her term ends Dec. 31, 2019. Her departure adds to the list of supervisors who have also decided to retire.
Supervisors Linda Smyth, for the Providence District, and John Cook, for the Braddock District, recently said that they won’t seek reelection.
Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay plans to run for the top seat, as well as Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who faces a Democratic challenger for his district seat, The Washington Post reported. The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.
Bulova, who hits the 10-year mark in February for leading the board, joined the board in 1988 as the Braddock District Supervisor.
The announcement arrived in her monthly newsletter. In one section, she wrote:
Local government is an awesome place to be. It’s the level of government closest to the people you represent. It’s the place where you can truly make a tangible difference, touch lives, and engage with the community in a personal, positive way. Deciding when to stop is just as hard as making the decision to start down the road of elective office. For me, however, that time has come.
When questioned by Tony Olivo of the Washington Post about my plans for running, I told him I was going to use the Thanksgiving holiday to think about it, and to talk to my family and friends. On Thanksgiving Day my son David arrived for dinner equipped with a large flip chart and colored stickies for voting. He titled the Chart “Family Decision Making Matrix” and separated it into “Pros” and “Cons.” It was a fun, light-hearted after dinner activity. Many of the items listed on the “Pro” side of the chart were some of the reasons that had already persuaded me to not seek another four-year term. More time with family and grandchildren, time for travel, to entertain, to smell the roses. It has been an honor to serve the Fairfax County community on the Board of Supervisors. During these past thirty years, I have been privileged to work alongside dedicated elected officials at every level of government, with talented, caring county staff and a county full of enthusiastic community volunteers. While I will not be running for re-election in 2019 I sure do have a lot to look back on with satisfaction.
Congress members representing Virginia have applauded Bulova’s leadership style and accomplishments.
“As former mayor to a city of 200,000 people, I have enormous respect for Sharon Bulova’s leadership of a county of 1.1 million,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Over the past 30 years, Fairfax County’s population has grown by nearly half, and Sharon’s service during that time has played a major role in ensuring the prosperity and quality of life accompanying that growth.”
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the chairman before Bulova, said in a statement that Bulova “is a true community treasure,” whose time on the board will be remembered for decency and commitment to improving Fairfax County.
“Under her leadership, she turned the idea of the Virginia Railway Express into a reality,” Connolly said. “As Chairman, she guided the county through the worst of the Great Recession, while still maintaining the critical investments and services that Fairfax residents have come to expect.”
Reston Now reached out to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins for a comment and has not heard back.
Pat Hynes, the Hunter Mill District representative for Fairfax County Public Schools, board supervisors and Eileen Filler-Corn, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Fairfax County, took to Twitter this afternoon:
It’s been a privilege to serve on the school board during Sharon Bulova’s county bd chairmanship. A humble servant of the community, seeking input, investing in the long view, knowing that in local govt, today’s adversaries may be tomorrow’s allies. A model for future leaders. https://t.co/uxPzeugEC8
— Pat Hynes (@VotePatHynes) December 6, 2018
Congratulations to Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence District) on announcing her retirement at today’s Board meeting. Thank you for your years of dedication and service to Fairfax County.
— Supervisor Pat Herrity (@PatHerrity) December 4, 2018
.@SharonBulova is a great example of collaborative leadership. No one has been better at pulling together disparate views and finding consensus on difficult issues. 2/3
— John Cook (@JohnCookVA) December 6, 2018
— John Cook (@JohnCookVA) December 6, 2018
Thank you Chairman @SharonBulova for your tireless work, first as Braddock Supervisor and then as Chairman of the @fairfaxcounty Board of Supervisors. You have been an incredible advocate for our county and an incredible mentor to me and so many women and men. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/etFn46MB54
— Eileen Filler-Corn (@EFillerCorn) December 6, 2018
Photo via Fairfax County. Second photo via Evan Michio Cantwell.
Opioid Roundtable Planned — The discussion, scheduled for the Fairfax County Government Center at 2 p.m. Saturday, will be hosted by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The event is open to the public. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Reston Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in Gang-Related Killing — Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 19, entered pleas to abduction and gang participation Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors. She was among 10 members and associates of the gang MS-13 charged after the January killing of 15-year-old Damaris A. Reyes Rivas. She may face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced in May. [Washington Post]
Herndon Adds Parking Enforcement Position — The part-time officer was hired Oct. 3 and will work 30 hours a week, which has at least one resident worried about “end[ing] up like Reston Town Center.” [Connection Newspapers]
Silver Line Phase 2 Hits Two-Thirds Point — More than 5 million hours have been spent on the $2.78 billion project so far, according to updates expected to be presented today to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board. [WTOP]
Herndon Woman 10 Years Into Breast Cancer Fight — On her 50th birthday, Anita Hyman got the call that she had breast cancer. After a mastectomy, she is now celebrating her 60th birthday with her family. [WUSA]
SLHS Band Honored — The South Lakes High School marching band won first place in its class for best music, overall effect, percussion and visual at the USBands NOVA Regional recently. [South Lakes Band/Twitter]
Bulova Among ‘Most Powerful Women’ in DC Area — Washingtonian says Bulova’s “role in getting the Silver Line’s first phase completed, despite Metro’s budget problems” has cemented support for her. [Washingtonian]
No Change in County Unemployment Rate — The unemployment rate in Fairfax County in August was 3.1 percent, unchanged from July. That’s ahead of the 3.8 percent rate in Virginia and the 4.5 percent rate nationwide. [Inside NoVa]
Reston Company Provides Tablets to Inmates — Reston-based Global Tel Link is working with jails, including in Indiana’s Allen County, to provide secure tablets to inmates. The inmates are using them for communication, music, games and other activities. [Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette]
Ribbon Cutting for Clothing Store — Scout & Molly’s (11944 Market St.) hosted its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning. Among attendees were Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, representatives of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and more.
Summer Meals Program Starts Today — The Free Summer Meals for Kids Program provides free, healthy meals to children ages 5 to 18 at designated meal sites in Fairfax County. [Fairfax County]
Officials Talk Metro, Fields, More — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and more addressed the Vienna Town Council recently to give updates on the Silver Line, placement of athletic fields and more. [The Connection]
Kids Can Earn Prizes for Reading — Kids who complete the summer reading adventure at any Fairfax County library by Sept. 2 can win a coupon book with dozens of free and discounted fun treats like ice cream and miniature golf. [Fairfax County]
Image courtesy Powers Brand Communications LLC
Following President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Fairfax County is joining the Mayors Climate Action Agenda.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors endorsed joining more than 200 other municipalities nationwide in an effort to combat climate change. The three main takeaway points from the Mayors Climate Action Agenda are the development of a community greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the setting of near- and long-term emissions reduction targets, and the development of a climate action plan.
Ten years ago, Fairfax County was part of a similar agreement called Cool Counties. Cool Counties committed Fairfax County to cut the D.C. region’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) June 7, 2017
Through Cool Counties, the county has since reached its initial goal of cutting its per capita emissions by 10 percent. Helene Shore of local environmental activism group 350 Fairfax argues that this hasn’t been enough, but she’d glad the county has recommitted itself.
“We’d like to see 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. We wish that other mayors would hop aboard — it’s important that we address this at a local level and that local governments keep working towards renewable energy, since our central government won’t be doing much work it seems. We don’t have much time left and it’s important that we keep working forward.”
Fairfax County is encouraging residents to get involved, especially in reducing their electricity emissions. Residents can sign up for discounted solar panels, get expert advice on energy savings, checkout a thermal camera from the library and apply for a matching grant to fund any possible projects that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) officially adopted its budget for FY2018 on Tuesday, with a 2.79-percent increase in funding for schools and nearly $2 million in additional funding for assistance to those suffering from mental illnesses.
County supervisors also voted to keep real estate taxes at the same rate of $1.13 per $100 assessed value of a property.
In a statement released around 11 a.m. Tuesday, following the BOS meeting, Chairman Sharon Bulova said “few changes” were made to the proposed budget that was previously advertised.
Though it falls roughly $47 million short of what education advocates told the County they needed, the superviors approved a 2.79-percent increase in funding for schools, bringing Fairfax County Public Schools’ annual budget to $2.17 billion for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. The increase is equivalent to an additional $53.4 million over FY2017.
In total, funding for schools is equal to 52.8 percent of the County’s total annual budget, Bulova said.
Another area that will see increased spending in FY2018 is the county’s new “Diversion First” program for those suffering with mental illness.
The program aims to divert individuals with mental illness away from jail and into treatment programs.
“In 2016, 375 people were diverted from potential incarceration, and I am proud to continue supporting this effective public safety and human services initiative,” Bulova said.
Bulova said, looking ahead, FY2019 will likely see even more budget challenges, particularly in areas like schools, housing, human services, the environment, and Metro.
“Metro is anticipated to require a significant increase in funding from local jurisdictions to promote safe and reliable service delivery,” she said. “As always, Fairfax County will remain vigilant to any future changes that may impact the local budget in the upcoming fiscal year.”
Read more about the county’s adopted budget on the Fairfax County Government website.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning marked up the proposed FY2018 budget, and the current real estate tax rate remains.
Upon approval of the budget, the real estate tax rate will remain at the FY 2017 level of $1.13 per $100 of the assessed value of the home, as proposed by the county executive. (The average Reston real estate assessment has gone down by 0.33 percent in 2017.) Board chairman Sharon Bulova said the stable rate “ensure[s] Fairfax County continues to be an affordable place to live for seniors and families.”
At the board’s Feb. 28 meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) supported an amendment that would have raised the advertised real estate tax rate to $1.15 per $100. The amendment, introduced by Supervisor Kathy Smith (Sully District), failed by a vote of 7-3, with Supervisor Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon District) casting the third vote in favor.
Changes in the marked-up $4.1 billion budget include:
- an additional $1.7 million in funding for Fairfax County Public Schools above the amount in the county executive’s proposed budget, for a total transfer of $2.17 billion (52.8 percent of the budget)
- just under $2 million and 18 new positions to support the second year of the county’s Diversion First initiative, which helps divert individuals with mental illness from jail into mental health treatment
- more than $13 million in reductions and nine position eliminations, resulting from agency reductions and continued savings in fuel and retiree health expenses
The marked-up budget was approved by an 8-2 vote of the Board, with Smith and Storck dissenting.
The board is expected to officially approve the budget May 2, and it will go into effect July 1.