The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors completed its three nights of public hearings about the proposed FY 2014 county budget last Thursday. It was a marked contrast to my first budget process in 1996, when more than 800 people signed up to speak, and the Board added a full Saturday to the usual three-night schedule just to accommodate the crowds. Individual town meetings hosted by Board members were overflowing with advocates and opponents, but all parties were heard, and prudent decisions made.
Those last two items, perhaps, highlight the Board’s approach to budget decisions every year. Through public hearings, district town meetings, letters and emails, office meetings, and casual conversations with constituents, Board members receive a lot of opinions about how resources should be spent. Armed with that input, Board members review and analyze current programs and needs before making the thoughtful decisions that are the hallmarks of Fairfax County’s award-winning budget process.
Each year, budget speakers convey some very picturesque reasons for maintaining their favorite programs. This year, a Commission on Aging speaker, appealing a proposed cut to Home Based Care funding, told a story of an elderly woman about to move into an assisted living facility. When asked if she wanted to take one more walk in the old neighborhood, she replied, “No, let’s walk one another home.” The speaker made the point that caregivers do just that — walk the cared-for person to that place where one can be true and comfortable, no matter the frailty or the disability. The same evening, the four barbershop quartet members from the Fairfax Jubil-Aires, in shiny gold vests, musically reminded the Board about the importance of maintaining the county’s grant program for the arts.
The Board will mark up the budget on April 23; adoption is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30. The FY 2014 county budget takes effect on July 1. The proposed budget, and associated budget documents, including the Board’s Q & A about the budget, is available on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget.
Local neighborhood-sponsored races are not new, but one very special race has brought the community together following a tragic death last year. The second annual Alexis Jackson Memorial Race will begin at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 6800 Columbia Pike in Annandale, at 10 a.m., this Saturday, April 20. The entry fee for the 5K race is $15; registration begins at 8 that morning. The Sleepy Hollow Woods Civic Association will donate all proceeds to Alternative House, a local nonprofit that serves abused and homeless children. Last year’s race brought hundreds of people together to remember 13-year-old Alexis, and this year promises to bring even more friends, acquaintances, and strangers, together. For more information, email alexisjackson5K@gmail.com.
When you finish the race, you can scoot over to the library for the very popular semi-annual book sale, sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library, at 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale. Hours are: today from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon until 5 p.m. All proceeds support library programs in Fairfax County.