Local Commentary

Editorial: Wealthier & Chintzier?

Who’s surprised by the news carried on the front page of this edition that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Falls Church is the second-most wealthy jurisdiction, with the second highest median household income, in the entire U.S.?

Of course, all the surrounding jurisdictions of Northern Virginia are on the top tier of that list, too, so it may be hard to distinguish Falls Church that much. Also, given the size of the million-strong Fairfax County, in particular, there are without doubt large sections of that county well ahead of tiny 14,000 (14,016 to be exact as of July 1, 2016) Falls Church in that statistic, as there are in sections of other large regional jurisdictions, like Montgomery County in Maryland.

Another indicator is contained in a summary of the “Special Education Program Review” final report presented by JJC and Associates to the Falls Church School Board on Tuesday night. The report compared the Falls Church School System to four others of comparable size in Virginia, including the system of nearby Manassas Park City for the 2016-2017 school year. While Falls Church’s system, with a total enrollment of 2,670, included 211 “economically disadvantaged” students, Manassas Park’s system, with a total enrollment of 3,588, had 1,993, according to the report. That’s a whopping difference that says more about the well-being of the F.C. student population than about the disadvantages of those in Manassas Park.

(It is notable that the consultants made no mention of this as a contributing factor to what they found, except to include the numbers in a graph. The News-Press will be provide full coverage of the report in a future edition).

So consider this: if the Falls Church citizenry is so well-heeled, then why are three large and centrally-important city buildings — the high school, the library and City Hall — falling apart right now, all in desperate need of renovations and expansions? Isn’t this an embarrassment of some great proportions of its own?

It certainly appears so, especially when even more data is added in, including the fact that Falls Church has derived a higher percentage of its revenues from economic development as a proportion of its total operating budget than any other jurisdiction in the region.

Notwithstanding the fact that the small size of Falls Church has an understandably disproportionate impact, even if not by much, on the cost of running things here, it appears indisputable that the citizens of Falls Church have been getting away with veritable murder by stingily and systematically short changing their government and their school system for many years.

Maybe this is a byproduct of wealth. Does the more someone has predispose them to be that much chintzier?

Citizens here have a chance this year to disavow this perhaps (hopefully) correlation by voting to build the new high school in November just as they voted funds for the library renovation last year.