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3 Bs: Budget, Bay and Back Yard

Freshman delegate hosts town hall meeting in Vienna.

Like many others at the Vienna Community Center on Sunday, Florence Gubanc of Oakton was concerned about the state's budget. That was why she attended a town hall meeting hosted by freshman Del. Stephen C. "Steve" Shannon (D-35th).

"I feel the state is desperate for funding. And I realize we've got to raise revenue somehow," Gubanc said.

Over 50 citizens attended Shannon's town hall meeting, which featured a question-and-answer session with the delegate, as well as presentations by state staff on the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and Gov. Mark Warner's (D) tax reform proposal.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation of the governor's tax reform proposal by Paul Reagan, the director of communications for the Office of the Governor. The proposal, which includes possible increases to the sales and cigarette taxes, an additional income tax bracket for those with incomes above $100,000, and means-testing the senior citizen tax deduction, aims to balance the budget while strengthening the state's bond rating.

Responding to a constituent, Shannon said he abstained from voting on several tax reform measures in the Finance Committee last week because the votes called for passing by the legislation, or discontinuing discussion on the bills.

"There are some who say we can cut spending. ... I can accept that principle," Shannon said, who was one of two freshman committee members who abstained from voting. "But if we're going to do that, the package needs to start in the Appropriations Committee, not in the Finance Committee."

During the question-and-answer session, citizens asked Shannon about many local issues, including terror alerts, the red-light camera program, Nottoway Park, pedestrian safety around the Vienna Metrorail station, and affordable housing.

Shannon responded that he supported the red-light camera, and had campaigned against constructing a maintenance facility at Nottoway Park. For the other questions, he asked his staff to work with Fairfax County and state agencies for their specific concerns.

The meeting also included a presentation by Scott Crafton, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department, a state agency. Shannon invited Crafton because of concerns of the Town of Vienna and of several homeowners whose properties lie along a Resource Protection Area (RPA).