Election Day is less than three weeks away. Lost, perhaps, in the cacophony of television ads and telephone polls, is the fact that there are several “down ballot” questions for voters to consider, including four bond referenda for Fairfax County and two state constitutional questions. Election officials caution that advance preparation about candidates and ballot questions makes for a smoother time at your polling place and, hopefully, a shorter wait in line.
Bonds are the principal means by which Fairfax County raises funds for capital projects needed in the county, without raising taxes to pay for those projects. Debt service for bonds is included in the annual county budget. Many years ago, the Board of Supervisors instituted a strict cap for debt service, and sales are planned carefully to stay below the cap.
The Parks and Park Facilities Bonds total $75 million, of which $63 million would fund Fairfax County Park Authority projects, and $12 million would pay for the county’s share of costs to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). Fairfax County is a signatory to the NRVPA Compact, and holds a seat on the NVRPA Board of Directors. The county bond funds would support four areas: $12.9 million for land acquisition and stewardship; $7.2 million for community parks and new facilities; $19 million for facility expansion; and $23.3 million for existing facility renovation.
The Public Safety Bonds total $55 million, including $35 million to rebuild three fire stations: $9 million for Bailey’s Crossroads Station 10; $14 million for Jefferson Station 18 (both 10 and 18 are in Mason District); and $12 million for the Herndon Fire Station. The additional $20 million would renovate 22 older courtrooms in the Fairfax County Courthouse, which need to be upgraded for technology and security.
The Public Library Bonds total $25 million for renovations at three libraries: Pohick Regional ($5 million), John Marshall Community ($5 million), and Tysons-Pimmit Regional ($5 million). The other $10 million would pay for a future Reston Regional Library to be constructed as an urban mixed-use center with government facilities. Mason District voters may remember that the renovations of George Mason Regional, Thomas Jefferson Community, and the renovations scheduled for the Woodrow Wilson Community library next year were paid for with bond funds approved by the voters in previous elections.
The Storm Drainage Improvement Bond request totals $30 million, to build a levee and pumping station to protect the Huntington neighborhood, in Mount Vernon District, which has experienced three extraordinary floods during the past 10 years. The county’s storm water fee, which is collected on real property tax bills, is used for projects across the county, and does not generate enough funding to design and build this major project.
For more information about the 2012 Bond Referenda, call the office of Public Affairs at 703/324-3187, or log-on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bond. You can vote absentee in-person at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, Monday through Friday from 2 until 8 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., through November 3. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, and you may vote at your regular polling place from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org