County Executive Ed Long’s proposed FY 15 budget is still in development, and won’t be released for nearly two months, but demands for funding already are starting. The Fairfax County School Board has an $800 million renovation and repair list in addition to their request for an eight percent increase in the operating budget, county employee compensation issues must be addressed, and human services, especially for mental health, need to be expanded to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
At the same time, outgoing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposed 2014-2016 Biennium Budget will face the scrutiny of the Republican House of Delegates and the still-Democratic Senate during the “short” session of the General Assembly. Given the timing of the budget process, Fairfax County may not know until later in the spring exactly what state funding will be available to support mandated services.
Layer on top of that the inauguration of Terry McAuliffe, our new Democratic governor, who is expected to propose his own budget amendments, and you have a recipe for angst and uncertainty as we move into the budget process. Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia, by state law, are required to adopt a balanced budget each year. We do not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road like Congress does across the river. Updated real property assessments, reflecting 100 percent of fair market value, required annually in Fairfax County, will be mailed to homeowners in late February.
The brutal cold of earlier this week has moved on, but without a guarantee that it won’t happen again. If you weren’t prepared for the single digit temperatures, or even if you were, here are some quick reminders that might help you get through the rest of the winter:
• If possible, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress in layers, including hats, mittens or gloves and boots or sturdy shoes.
• Bring pets and companion animals inside.
• Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly, to ensure their well-being.
• If you see someone unsheltered during cold weather, call 703/691-2131, the county’s non-emergency number. When temperatures are below freezing, shelters in Fairfax County operate on a no-turnaway policy.
• Fill up your car gas tank. There’s less chance of gas lines freezing with a full tank.
• Double-check safety precautions before using fireplaces or portable heaters as alternative heating sources.
• Sign up for the county’s Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean to receive weather and traffic alerts on your cell phone.
Just in case you missed it, emergency repairs to the sewer force main along a portion of Sleepy Hollow Road, from Dearborn Drive to Malbrook Drive, are anticipated to begin this week, weather permitting. The work uses a trenchless method to repair and reline the sewer pipes, requiring a minimum of excavation. Traffic flow will be maintained during the work, but drivers should expect to see flaggers and variable lanes in use. No parking will be allowed in that area during the several weeks of repairs.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.