Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Discovery of a new Covid-19 variant, dubbed “Omicron,” is creating renewed concern for public health officials and medical personnel. In Fairfax County, where more than 75 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated for Covid-19, the Health Department recommends getting a booster (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) from your healthcare provider or pharmacy. Face masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing also are recommended, especially during the busy holiday season. Sadly, the predictions are correct: the pandemic is morphing into global variants, and reasonable precautions still must be taken. Stay healthy, so you can enjoy the holidays.


The 25th annual Mason District Holiday Town Gathering will be held on Monday, December 6, 2021, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. This should be the 26th annual gathering, but the pandemic caused cancellation of last year’s gathering, so it’s actually the 25th time I’ve hosted this kick-off to the holiday season. Refreshments, door prizes, and live entertainment by an ensemble from the very popular Irish Breakfast Band will be featured, along with my annual State of Mason District report. Masks are required to enter county buildings, and seats will be placed farther apart to accommodate social distancing. The Holiday Town Gathering is designed to be family friendly, and I look forward to greeting constituents next Monday night.


The current Art in the Mason District Governmental Center features local artist Marni Maree’s watercolors. Vivid blossoms, “Corona Abstracts” painted during the Covid-19 lockdown, and a couple of proud camels are among the items featured in the show, which will continue until January 30, 2022. Maree teaches at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, and is a member of the Potomac Valley Watercolorists, the Springfield Art Guild, and the Virginia Watercolor Society. The Art in the Mason District Governmental Center has featured many talented local artists since its inception in 1996. The artists’ works, some for sale, may be viewed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.


The Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, December 7, will be the last scheduled meeting for 2021. The Board will adopt new maps for nine magisterial districts, and conduct a public hearing about proposed changes to the low-income real estate tax relief program. Pursuant to state law, Fairfax County may provide income and asset-based real estate tax relief to qualified individuals who are at least 65 years of age, or permanently and totally disabled. Under current eligibility, the applicant’s gross household income may not exceed $72,000, and they may have no more than $340,000 in total assets, excluding the home’s value and one acre of land. The program limits have not been changed or updated since Fiscal Year 2006; in calendar year 2019, the county’s tax relief program approved approximately 6,600 real estate tax relief applications, relieving roughly $28.7 million in taxes. Currently, about 900 Mason District households qualify for senior tax relief. Proposed amendments to the program would increase both income and assets to qualify, and add a tax deferral option (deferred amounts would be recouped at the time of property transfer).

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