Updates from Letty – July 15, 2016

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

Dear Friends,

I hope your summer is going well and you’re staying cool. City Council had a combined regular meeting and work session agenda this week, with most of the high interest topics (Miller House, super penalties, GMHS, Bike Share) in the work session portion. While we’re in the dog days of summer – take note of several important meetings on the calendar in the next week – most notably, the Town Hall meeting for the Library project is next Wednesday and the Fairfax County Planning Commission will hear the revised Mt. Daniel application next Thursday evening.

Quick housekeeping note on our summer meeting schedule – in lieu of our regular Monday meeting next week, we have a joint meeting and tour with the City of Fairfax and Town of Vienna in Fairfax on Tuesday night and I’ll be at a Virginia Municipal League training at the end of the week, so my blog will take another hiatus. We then have an August 1st work session and an August 8th regular meeting before we break for the summer; we will resume a regular meeting schedule on Tuesday, September 6th.


What Happened This Week:

City Council Meeting – July 11, 2016

  • Miller House – there was a brief update about the status of the Miller House and the Comprehensive Agreement with the builder/operator chosen Community Residences Inc. As a quick recap – the proposal involves the City contributing land via a 40 year lease at $1/year and CRI would build and operate a group home for disabled adults, giving preference to FCC residents. CRI is working on financing and awaiting a low interest state loan. The Comprehensive Agreement is expected to be voted on at our 7/25 meeting if details of the financing will be available by then. If passed, design would begin next spring, 1 year construction starting next summer, and completion in Fall 2018.
  • Late Payment Penalty and Fees – we had a work session discussion led by the City Treasurer on the “super penalties” idea discussed during the FY17 budget cycle, as a means to increase revenue to support Neighborhood Traffic Calming. There is currently a 10% penalty for delinquent personal property tax payments. The proposal would add a 15% penalty for delinquent bills at 61 days, which allows for sufficient time for late notices. While the fiscal impact is expected only to be $30K/year and we’ll need to continue looking for other sources of funds for NTC, the proposal would better align our late payment policy with our neighboring jurisdictions. This item will come up for 1st reading vote on 7/25.
  • Good news on Bike Share – for those following the campaign to bring bike share to FCC, you’ll recall that we had secured $500K in funds for operating costs of bikeshare from the NVTC last month. The good news is that we now have secured $2MM for capital funding via an agreement with Fairfax County to transfer federal funds to us. The $2MM request was originally submitted to another transportation regional body, the NVTA, and despite a large number of citizen comments and letters (thank you!), it was becoming clear that the NVTC would prioritize other transportation projects, especially ones involving large roads in the outer suburbs vs multi modal projects like bike share. While federalizing the project will have some implications, kudos to City staff for partnership with Fairfax County and creative problem solving.
  • GMHS/MEH campus planning – no new news on this front. As everyone agrees that a joint meeting with City Council and School Board is the key next step, I’ve been disappointed that we haven’t been able to get one on the calendar since the vote to discontinue the PPEA process was a month ago. I hope we’ll be able to get both bodies together before our summer break.
  • Other notables:
    • Metrobus 3T bus service – The City has put in formal request for a public hearing to reinstate the recently eliminated 3T bus line.
    • Roadbed reconstruction project on Roosevelt (similar to S. West St last year) and other streets underway. Take note of road closures and detours.
    • West Virginia flood relief – in partnership with citizen efforts, the City is collecting donations to benefit victims of floods in WVA. Donations can be dropped off at the Community Center. They are especially in need of: Pedialyte or other electrolyte solution for infants and children, Ensure, Glucerna or other protein and nutrition drinks for adults, protein bars, underwear and socks for women, men, girls and boys.

What’s Coming Up

Wed July 20th, 730 pm – Library Town Hall (Council Chambers, City Hall) – Ahead of our final vote whether to place the Library project on the November ballot, there will be a community meeting to provide more information on the $8MM project and in the context of an ambitious 5 year Capital Improvements Program (CIP). As reported by the City Manager – City Hall, Library (if approved by voters), and land acquisition items require incremental $2MM/year in debt service, which equates to a 5 cents on the property tax rate. And if the GMHS/MEH campus project ends up being $112MM, that adds another $6MM/year in debt service or abotu 15 cents on the tax rate, absent any economic development that could offset that impact.

Thurs July 21, 815 pm – Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting on Mt. Daniel (Fairfax Government Center, Fairfax). If you haven’t heard already, FCCPS revised the 2232 application to Fairfax County at the end of June. The amendment reduces the original expansion plan by 6 classrooms with a maximum capacity of 660 students, which is expected to last 12 years vs the original 20 years. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hear this revised 2232 application next Thursday; the meeting is open to the public and is also usually live streamed.

Mon July 25, 730 pm – City Council meeting. Agenda will be posted by the end of next week, but I expect the Library project and Miller House to be the key topics.

Wed July 27 – Harris Teeter grand opening!