Council Prepares for Budget Vote

Council Prepares for Budget Vote

More Parking for Downtown?

Next Tuesday, April 27, the Herndon mayor and Town Council is expected to adopt the proposed $34 million fiscal year 2005 budget — $27 million of which is for the general fund — after a second public hearing.

The proposed budget does not include any new programs and holds the line on all of the town's fees and taxes.

The budget also does not include any tax relief for the town's older citizens, but that may be coming soon.

At a work session Tuesday night to discuss any final questions on the FY '05 budget, Councilman Michael O'Reilly raised the possibility of the town creating a "tax-deferred program" for the senior population. He requested staff review a proposal to see what kind of impact it would have on town finances. O'Reilly suggested residents 65 and older, upon applying to the program, can "freeze" their tax rate. Any property tax assessment increases would be deferred until the property is sold.

"I know we can't get something drafted to look at by budget time, but we can within the next three to four months," O'Reilly said.

His idea seems to have support among the other council members.

"We only have about 3 percent of our population over 65, so it wouldn't be a major hit," said Councilwoman Connie Hutchinson.

The town already has a tax-relief program for the elderly and people with disabilities similar to the one offered by the county. The program provides incremental tax relief depending on the household income.

IN ALL, the Town Council has six public hearings scheduled for next week, with three budget-related.

Among the non-budget hearings, is the granting of a conditional-use permit for the town to construct a temporary parking lot at 726 Center St., formerly used by the Paul Brothers car dealership.

The proposal is for a 42-space public shared parking lot, which will be in use no longer than five years, to be located on the corner of Center and Vine streets.

Henry Bibber, director of community development, said the parking lot was needed in order for the town to fulfill its commitments to the shared parking program, where downtown businesses pay a subscriber fee in exchange for a certain number of spaces in the public lots. With two new projects underway downtown, there is not enough spaces to meet the demand, he said.

"This is based on two buildings that aren't built yet, but we're receiving their fee," Bibber said. "It will also be an opportunity to reopen the parking program to some new subscribers."

The proposal calls for the heavy landscaping of the Center Street side, which will be closest to the residential neighborhood, as well as the construction of a 4-foot-wide sidewalk. Access to the lot will be from Vine Street.

ALSO SUBJECT to a public hearing is the granting of a 10-year franchise to the United States Army Corp. of Engineers for underground telecommunications facilities. The town and Corp. already have an existing franchise agreement, which is set to expire soon. Under the terms of the current agreement, the town receives a franchise fee of $38,652 per year. The new deal will raise that figure to about $72,118 per year.

The public will also get to weigh in on amendments to the town's building code, which essentially brings it in line with the changes made to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.

The Town Council meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 27, in the Herndon Council Chambers, 765 Lynn St.