Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Fairfax County’s proposed FY 2011 budget continues to be a focus for discussion among county residents. At a recent Board of Supervisors’ budget meeting, the Human Services Council presented its recommendations for the funding plan. The Human Services Council is an advisory body appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

The Council reviewed the county’s advertised budget plan and supported continued funding of the Consolidated Community Funding Pool and the Emergency Support Reserve for non-profit organizations that are in a precarious position during the current economic crisis. If such non-profits fail, their costs and responsibilities must be absorbed by county programs. Non-profits leverage hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars every year for those in need. The Council also offered strong support for the Half-Penny for Affordable Housing, and the Health Department request for an additional nine full-time positions for critical health preparedness. A federal grant expired, but the ability to respond to disasters and assist communities in recovery is a core public health function, requiring more permanent staff.

In her presentation, Donna Fleming, Council vice chairman, noted that county public assistance caseloads increased by 25 percent; food stamp requests rose 139 percent; utility assistance is up 117 percent; and food assistance increased by 95 percent. Communicable disease investigations climbed nearly 300 percent in just a few years. Obviously, people’s basic needs are at stake, Ms. Fleming said. Several positions in mental health treatment administered by the Community Services Board, home-based care services for older adults and adults with physical disabilities, and funding for the Taxi Access program for persons with disabilities were among the priorities of the council. Total cost for the restorations was a little more than $2 million, and the Board will consider those recommendations in its budget deliberations in the coming weeks.

Also under discussion at the budget meeting was a replacement for the Massey Building, now the public safety headquarters, and the Blueprint for Affordable Housing, part of the county’s goal to end homelessness in 10 years. When it was built in 1967, the Massey Building was quite modern, but age, asbestos, and an antiquated HVAC system, make every day an interesting challenge for workers assigned there. The Board is considering three options: relocate to either an existing building that can be adapted for public safety usage, or build a new facility on county-owned property; renovate the aging Massey Building; or do nothing. All choices come with a steep price tag.

Of special note to Mason District is potential funding for the Blueprint for Affordable Housing, which includes a significant rehabilitation and/or replacement for the Lincolnia Assisted Living Center. The Lincolnia units were built 20 years ago, and the facility needs some major upgrades, including a modern HVAC system. Lincolnia currently houses low-income 52 residents, in addition to an adult day health center, and some lively senior citizen programming that is well-subscribed. These capital needs also will have to be considered in the budget deliberations.

Former 8th District Congressman Stan Parris died this week. Before he went to Congress, however, Stan was the Mason District Supervisor for one term, elected in November 1963, and serving until the end of 1967. Those were some pretty interesting times. As noted above, the Massey Building was constructed to house county government. Several members of the Board of Supervisors went to jail for land use and ethics violations. The County Executive Form of Government was created by the General Assembly, specifically for Fairfax County. Stan was the second Mason District Supervisor, following the legendary Anne Wilkins, who represented the Falls Church District when lines were redrawn to form the Mason magisterial district in 1952.

 


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]