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Votes

Budget, Beautification and Branch Road

Town officials look ahead to possible issues in 2003.

As Vienna looks to the year ahead, town officials will examine several reoccurring themes. Town beautification efforts, as well as improvements to town services and infrastructure will continue, as well as an examination of the town's budget.

Several issues that Vienna will look into in 2003 deal with town beautification. The Maple Avenue Enhancement Project, which tied up traffic during the summer and the second half of 2002, is only part of a vision that several town officials feel needs to be established.

A committee will discuss throughout 2003 plans for the town's main drag.

The vision will be similar to the way Vienna made a vision for Church Street, said Vienna council member Albert Boudreau.

Another beautification project, a town park between Mill Street and the W&OD Trail, will also receive further discussion. Several public hearings for finalizing park design and features may come up in 2003.

The town bought the property owned by Showke George for $2.2 million in 2001.

"I think we'll be further along in talking about the design of the new park," said Vienna council member Mike Polychrones, adding that park construction may begin in three or four years.

Town officials may also discuss the fate of the Moorefield property, which is on the western edges of town off of Tapawingo Road.

There's been "controversy over the last 25 years to restore it, without success," Boudreau said.

Besides town beautification, local officials may also discuss the improvement of town services. Vienna mayor Jane Seeman said that the council hopes to find money for a town-wide study of stormwater management.

"We want to look at the whole town," Seeman said.

The town will also make some plans for the reconstruction of Branch Road, which suffers from heavy traffic. Although the road is still on the list for fixing up by the Virginia Department of Transportation, any road improvements by VDOT won't occur until 2007. Beulah Road, the other road scheduled for improvements by VDOT, is scheduled 2004-05, with a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the town hall.

And while the town may discuss improvements or beautification efforts, the town's budget may impact how much money can be spend on any project. As county and state budgets tighten and household income is down, the effects will trickle into Vienna's upcoming budget. The town will grapple with the mid-year budget review in the early months of 2003.

"We just need to know where we're standing," Seeman said. "It looks like we've budgeted pretty well."

Polychrones agreed, adding that Vienna residents may see another increase in assessments. Because of a possible increase, the town may look into lowering the tax rate.

The question is, how much can you lower the tax rate while maintaining town services, Polychrones said.