Wow! The voters spoke loudly last week, all across the nation. Was the White House listening? Fairfax County voters continued the tradition started in 2004 when Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry carried the county by more than 33,000 votes. The following year, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine won the county by 60,000 votes.
This year, Democratic Senatorial candidate Jim Webb garnered nearly 65,000 votes more than Republican Senator George Allen, returning the United States Senate to Democratic control.
Democratic, Republican, and independent voters agreed on two ballot questions in Fairfax County. The Parks and Park Facilities Bond received a 77.4 percent approval rating, and the Public Safety Facilities Bond passed by 78.8 percent, slightly higher percentages than we’ve seen in the past. Virginia law permits localities to borrow money to finance the acquisition of land, materials, and equipment to construct projects by issuing general obligation bonds. These bonds obligate the County to repay investors from future tax revenue, but before the County can incur the debt, the voters must authorize borrowing.
Fairfax voters authorized $25 million in bonds for parks and park facilities. A portion will be used for acquisition of future parkland. Bond proceeds also will be used to repair and renovate existing facilities and develop new facilities, including athletic fields and trails. Last week, the new synthetic turf field at Mason District Park was dedicated. The new field is engineered and constructed to be an all-weather field, and is designed to drain and be playable shortly after the rain stops.
Bond funds will ensure that more synthetic turf fields can be installed across the county, increasing availability and playability for team sports.
The $125 million public safety bond will allow the police stations at Fair Oaks, McLean, and Reston to receive major renovations and expansions. Each of the stations is more than 20 years old; staffing and security concerns will be addressed with the renovations. The West Ox Animal Shelter will be renovated and expanded to deal with overcrowding caused by a substantial increase in the County pet population. Proposed Animal Shelter renovations include moving the police department’s Animal Control operation to separate quarters on the same site. Currently, 23 animal control officers operate out of a single conference room at the shelter, and administrative personnel work out of a renovated closet, not far from temporary animal cages filled with birds, lizards, and other exotic, lost, or abandoned pets. The bond also includes replacement of the Great Falls Fire Station, and improvements at some existing stations. The Fire and Rescue Training Academy will be expanded and upgraded to keep pace with current and future capacity requirements for fire recruit training.
Thank you to the voters who supported these important improvements for Fairfax County residents. Prudent use of bonding authority has saved Fairfax County taxpayers more than $343 million in interest.