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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bulova outlines priorities for 2011

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will focus on four major issues in 2011—a challenging budget situation, redistricting, elections, and BRAC—said Chair Sharon Bulova in her State of the County Speech Jan. 13.

Bulova estimates the county will need to close a projected shortfall for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, of about $50 million. If raises for county and school employees are factored in, the shortfall would increase by more than $100 million. “While we are beginning to see some improvement in residential real estate, a modest increase in value of approximately 2.4 percent, commercial values have continued to fall, though not as steeply as last year,” Bulova says.

The redistricting process must be done every 10 years to even up the populations in each of the county’s nine magisterial districts. “While most districts have not experienced very much growth during the past 10 years, populations in Hunter Mill, Springfield, and Mount Vernon will likely need to be redistributed during the 2011 redistricting process,” Bulova says.

Final figures from the 2010 U.S. Census will not be available until February, and a final redistricting plan will not be adopted until at least April, Bulova says. “The redistricting process takes on special significance this time, since 2011 is an election year for the Board of Supervisors,” she says. All members of the board will be up for re-election, as will all members of the school board, all state delegates and senators, the sheriff, clerk to the court, and the commonwealth attorney. Primaries might have to be delayed until late August or early September.

Implementation of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, which began in 2005, involves about 20,000 Department of Defense employees moving to the county this fall, including 14,000 to the Ft. Belvoir area.

“Especially challenging is the BRAC-133 Mark Center site on I-395 in the City of Alexandria,” Bulova says. “Our board opposed this site, which will bring 6,200 Washington Headquarters Service jobs to this already severely congested area. No adequate transportation improvements are in place to support traffic entering and exiting the new building.”

Bulova says she and other supervisors are working with federal representatives and elected leaders in Alexandria and Arlington to address issues associated with the relocations. “Our goal for the BRAC moves is to minimize the impact on Fairfax County residents and commuters and also to identify economic development opportunities these relocations will provide,” she says.

Bulova met with each of the supervisors last fall to discuss goals for 2011. Among the items discussed:
  • Preserving the history of Fairfax County.
  • Meeting the environmental challenges associated with the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and bringing the community together to address the breach of the Kingstowne dam.
  • Engaging the community by strengthening leadership and building capacity within community organizations.
  • Fostering a stronger relationship with the school board.
  • Revitalizing and redeveloping Annandale, as well as Tysons Corner, Merrifield, McLean, Springfield, Baileys Crossroads, and the Richmond Highway corridor.
  • Insufficient transportation infrastructure to support the BRAC developments, as well as a wide range of other transportation issues.
Several other goals Bulova plans to pursue include:

  • Support for the right kind of growth. “We must foster growth and development in ways that protect our older stable communities but address the challenges that past auto-dependent development patterns have presented,” she says.
  • The transformation of Tysons. Six applications have been filed by Tysons landowners to rezone their properties in concert with the new comprehensive plan for Tysons Corner. Efforts are underway to identify public facilities, such as libraries, parks, cultural amenities, and schools that will be incorporated into new developments, as well as transportation improvements and a new grid of streets.
  • Clean energy. Bulova vows to encourage innovation and collaboration in support of clean, efficient, sustainable, secure, and reliable energy. A Private Sector Energy Task Force will work on these issues.
  • Economic growth, Bulova also plans to work with the Business Roundtable Group to pursue new areas for economic development and growth, such as biotechnology and personalized medicine, tourism and the hospitality industry, and energy and green technologies.
  • Multi-modal transportation. Another priority is the development of a transportation plan that incorporates multi-modal options, such as pedestrian and bike routes, light rail, Metro, the VRE, and transit.

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