Positioned as we are in the white hot center of global politics, it’s easy to focus on national and international headlines, and forget about the local government services that we rely on every day. Separating the responsibilities of local, state, and federal governments can be confusing to some residents, so I often advise constituents, “when you call 911, they don’t respond from across the river!” Nearly everything we do daily has a strong connection to services provided locally, and supported by local real estate taxes and fees, not state or federal income taxes. Very little of the taxes you remit to Richmond or Washington comes back to Fairfax County to support local services.
Public safety (including police, fire and rescue, courts, and sheriff’s office), schools, parks, libraries, wastewater treatment, and a wide variety of human services are core responsibilities of local government. Ancillary services, such as water, are provided by Fairfax Water, separately authorized by the Virginia General Assembly, but a local governmental entity, not a private water supplier. Although sewer services are billed by Fairfax Water, wastewater treatment is provided by the county; the combined billing is a cost-savings measure, for the customer as well as the agencies. One bill, one check, one stamp, or maybe one website, one login, one click!
Local government is where the action is, daily. Local elected officials generally are more accessible to their constituents, in or out of the office — at local events, the grocery store, church, sometimes even the dentist’s office. A recent caller was concerned about the condition of trees on parkland behind his home. He loved trees, but he deemed these dangerous. Could they be taken down? A visit by park staff and an urban forester finally resulted in tree trimming and partial removal, eliciting relief. Local governments may not get headlines, but they get the job done – every day!
The Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program features a new display of oil paintings by local artist Lydia Jechorek. Several of the subjects are old cars — once loved, but now not so gracefully aging in place, rusting and weedy. Other subjects are what I would term “double” paintings – looking over the shoulders of museum goers gazing at paintings by some well-known artists. You get two perspectives – your own and Lydia’s subject, a really interesting way to look at art. The show can be viewed weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., during September and October, at my office, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale.
Don’t forget — the Capitol Steps concert that was rained out in July has been rescheduled for tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Mason District Park, 6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale, weather permitting. The performance is free, but donations are welcomed. Come early to get a parking space and a seat. Bench seating is available, but many patrons bring folding chairs for more comfort. Bring a picnic dinner and friends, and enjoy the satire and humor of a home-grown troupe, with new subject matter almost daily!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.