Property taxes, Fairfax County budget and exciting new projects in the Sully District were topics discussed Monday night by Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully).
He was addressing the quarterly meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) and answered questions from the floor after speaking.
"This is the first year tax fever exploded," said Frey. "People have had, on average, 60-percent property-tax increases in the past four years."
He then noted that, earlier that day, the county Board of Supervisors reduced the tax rate by 5 cents. But it did so by increasing fees and other taxes, finding new revenue sources and reducing spending. Frey said the only revenue source that had increased was residential property assessments and lots of things were put on hold until next year.
"I didn't vote for [the budget]," he said. "The tax-rate reduction was the biggest we'd seen in several years, so it's a step in the right direction. [But] I thought we could have done more. It seemed to me that some of the tradeoffs were not good."
However, Frey was pleased that this year wasn't marked by "acrimonious battles" with the School Board. And he said efforts are continuing to increase compensation for teachers.
He said the Board wants to do likewise for public-safety personnel — who can make more money by working for the federal government. "If you lose them in the fourth or fifth year, you lose all the investment in their training," he said. "And the feds are increasing their security forces, big time."
As for Sully District Items on the horizon, Frey noted the recreation center and public/private-funded field house/athletic facility. And he noted that both the rec center and the Hunter Hacor land-preservation assemblage need to be named.
"On May 3 at 12:01 p.m., the Sully District Police Station will be created," he said. "Then we'll have eight district police stations in the county. It's going to be a tremendous facility for the benefit of the community."
The new station, on Stonecroft Boulevard, off Westfields Boulevard and Route 28 in Chantilly, will also be Sully's new governmental center. Frey and his staff moved into their new offices there, on Wednesday.
He noted that the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Annex being built in Chantilly is on schedule and may open to some degree in November, prior to December's official opening. "Westfield High will be partnered with the museum," he said. "A lot of the aircraft restoration will be done in public view, and lots of school field trips will go there."
Frey said work is being done to resolve the access issues, with the upgrading of Route 28 and the construction of Barnsfield Road. Relating that Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) got $50 million for a traffic study there, he said he was confident that things would work out all right. Said Frey: "[The museum] will be a tremendous draw for the community and is something that'll really put us on the map."
Steven Vandivere of Cabell's Mill asked how the 3.5 million people/year coming to the annex will get here. "Through a variety of ways," replied Frey. "Ultimately, I think the Smithsonian will be a huge boost for rail to Dulles. Clearly, we would like the tourists to come and stay in Virginia. Tourist dollars are fabulous — you don't have to educate their children."
He said work on the Route 28/Westfields Boulevard interchange will start early in 2004 and stressed the importance of residents participating in the Battlefield Bypass and Tri-County Connector studies. Said Frey: "We've got to figure out what's best to move the traffic so it doesn't overwhelm our neighborhoods."
Bull Run's Mark McConn asked why the Tri-County isn't dropped, since there's no construction money and funds spent on its EIS could be used for other transportation projects. Frey said it was too far along, but he agreed with McConn that "to put a cloud over the property owners [in its path], for 20 years, isn't fair." But believing such traffic improvements will eventually be needed, Frey said it's good to have potential solutions ready.