Updates from Letty – Jan 14, 2016

 Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

What happened this week?

Mason Row

If you haven’t heard or read already, City Council passed Mason Row by a 6-0 vote. Thank you to everyone who engaged positively and provided feedback throughout a very long process! I was especially heartened to see new voices speak up and get involved. The proposal we voted on Monday night is better because of strong citizen engagement. There is still much work ahead of us – groundbreaking is a year away and we’ll need to make sure we stay on top of the details. I hope to count on many of you to continue to chime in.

For those interested in my remarks from Monday night – which includes my original concerns I spoke about during the campaign, the progress made in the past 2 months, and the list of reasons I voted to approve the project – I posted the full text of my remarks on my blog at: https://www.lettyhardi.org/city-council-approves-mason-row-6-0/

What’s coming up?

Virginia General Assembly Convenes & Meet your State Reps

The Virginia General Assembly convened for its 60 day session on Wednesday. You can hear from your state representatives Senator Dick Saslaw and Delegate Marcus Simon this Saturday Jan 16 from 11 am-1230 pm at the Community Center. They’ll share their legislative agendas and give you the opportunity to ask questions and voice your thoughts on what’s important to you and Falls Church.

I’m especially interested in seeing legislation to reinstate our school stop arm camera program, gun free school zones, and support the Governor’s push for increased education funding. City Council last year adopted a more comprehensive legislative program that you can read to find out more about what Richmond will be working on, how it might impact the City of Falls Church, and our position. I’ll be preparing to visit Richmond later in January for a “lobbying day” to advocate for our priorities.

Visit the Farmer’s Market and swing by the Community Center on Saturday!

FY 2017 Budget

Budget season has started! You can find the early draft of the FY17 school budget the Superintendent shared with the community last week and on Tuesday night with the School Board. The quick summary: Dr. Jones is recommending the City to School transfer be $2.1 MM (about half of the $4.1 MM principals and staff requested) to meet upcoming needs, primarily to maintain class sizes and stay competitive with teacher salaries in Arlington. The City projects $880K in increased revenue available for school spending, so we’ll be starting with a $1.1 MM gap. I look forward to my School Board colleagues digging into the details of the budget before it gets formally submitted to City Council.

Here’s a general timeline of the budget process:

  • The School Board will have a series of budget sessions the rest of January and February and begin public hearings in February.
  • Meanwhile, the City is working on the CIP (Capital Improvements Program – ie, big projects/investments) – which will first be presented to the Planning Commission. You can then expect an open house for the public and several more public hearings on the CIP during the month of February.
  • Finally on March 14, the City Manager presents the full FY17 operating budget, which will include the school transfer request, and the CIP, with more town halls and public hearings throughout the month.
  • City Council is set to adopt the FY17 budget, which will include any tax rate changes, on April 25.

Next Week’s Council Agenda

City Council meets next Tuesday Jan 19 (due to the Monday holiday) to review progress on the Work Plan, plan a visioning session to hear from the community about the future of the City, and finalize our Board and Commission liaison assignments. We then move into closed session with the School Board to continue work on the GMHS/MEH campus project and an update on Mt. Daniel.

Next Tuesday’s agenda and documents will be posted here: https://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings

Stay warm,