Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts

It used to be that you could count on three things on or around President’s Day: great sales, a significant snow storm, and release of the proposed Fairfax County budget. The great sales disappeared years ago, and Monday, with temperatures in the 60s, felt like early spring, not snow. That leaves release of the county budget as the stalwart item for what, in Fairfax County, we call George Washington’s Birthday, since our first president was a long-time resident of Fairfax County, and is buried at his historic home, Mount Vernon.

County Executive Bryan Hill released his proposed FY 2023 county budget on Tuesday, and recommended full funding of the school system’s request, as well as compensation increases for county employees. With significant increases in assessed real estate values in a hot residential market, the budget also gives the Board of Supervisors the opportunity to reduce the real estate tax rate for the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. Budget details were released as this column went to press, so I will discuss particulars of the budget in future columns. The annual Mason District Budget Town Meeting will be held, in person, on Thursday, March 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Masks still will be required, as Fairfax County continues its mask mandate for county buildings.

Throughout the pandemic, Fairfax County library staff have done it all – providing direct public service in branches, supporting community health efforts, pivoting to virtual services, and much more. Even when libraries had to be closed to patrons, you could order books and pick them up curbside in contactless format, and the library website was available around the clock. For the third year, the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) is sponsoring Staff Excellence Awards. The nominating period ends on Monday, February 28, and you can nominate your favorite Fairfax County library employee for an excellence award. There are three terrific FCPL facilities in Mason District – Thomas Jefferson on Arlington Blvd., Woodrow Wilson on Knollwood Drive, and George Mason Regional Library in Annandale on Little River Turnpike, but any library employee at any branch is eligible. The Library Board of Trustees sponsors the awards program, which garners dozens of nominations annually. The current chairman of the Library Board is Fran Millhouser, who represents Mason District on the board, and provided insight into this opportunity to say “thank you” to a favorite employee. Winners will be recognized at the Library Board’s virtual meeting on March 9. Find more information online at awb://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library, or email library staff at wwwlib@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The current Art in the Mason District Governmental Center features Springfield artist Lewis A. Smith. A retired civil engineer, Mr. Smith captures images via photography, and prints them on canvas. One of my favorites in the show is brickwork in shadow, with an inviting wrought iron chair, a perfect spot for a casual cup of tea. In addition to the photo images on canvas, Mr. Smith has several bright abstract oils on display. The art show may be viewed Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, through April 29.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov