Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Lost in all the hoopla of the mid-term Congressional elections are three Virginia Constitutional Amendments and a Fairfax County Transportation Bond that voters also must decide. Some of those voting absentee are surprised because not much has been written about these ballot items. The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, which encourages informed and active participation in government and public policy issues, provides some simple explanations.

pennymug

Lost in all the hoopla of the mid-term Congressional elections are three Virginia Constitutional Amendments and a Fairfax County Transportation Bond that voters also must decide. Some of those voting absentee are surprised because not much has been written about these ballot items. The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, which encourages informed and active participation in government and public policy issues, provides some simple explanations.

The three proposed amendments to Virginia’s Constitution apply to Article X, Taxation and Finance. The first, to Section 6, would permit localities to establish their own thresholds of income or financial worth for property tax exemptions for persons 65 years of age or older, or those permanently and totally disabled. Currently, the Virginia General Assembly caps the income and asset levels that localities allow.  The second amendment, to Section 6-A, would allow the General Assembly to pass a law exempting from property taxes the home owned and occupied by a veteran with a 100 percent service-connected, permanent and total disability. The veteran’s surviving spouse could continue to claim the exemption by continuing the use of the house as a principal residence and not remarrying.

The third amendment, to Section 8, if approved, would increase the maximum size of the Commonwealth’s Revenue Stabilization Fund (the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the state’s average annual tax revenues from income and sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years. Under current law, the General Assembly must approve constitutional amendments during two regular sessions separated by a general election, and then submit them to the voters for adoption.

Also on the ballot is a county transportation referendum that would allow Fairfax County to borrow money and issue bonds, up to $120 million, to fund the county’s share of Metro. Local jurisdictions that are part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, first created in 1967 to build the current Metro system of rail, bus, and MetroAccess, share in the capital costs of the system, including land, transit facilities, rolling stock (rail cars and buses) and equipment that serve hundreds-of-thousands of commuters and visitors to our region every day.

In-person absentee voting for Fairfax County voters began this week at the Mason District Government Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale.  The polls are open Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. You may vote absentee in-person through Saturday, October 30. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, you may vote at your regular polling place from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

For nearly 15 years, my office participated in the Art in the Workplace program sponsored by the Arts Council of Fairfax County.  That program was suspended earlier this year, but I am continuing the practice of showcasing local artists at the Mason District Government Center.  The current display is by Marni Maree, whose floral watercolors, on both paper and canvas, delight the eye with brilliant color. The display can be viewed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Don’t forget tonight’s Mason District Fall Town Meeting, at 7 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church. The focus will be on VDOT’s severe winter weather program.


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


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