Money issues topped the bill at the City Council meeting and work session Tuesday, July 12. In public hearing, the council unanimously approved a resolution to appropriate $30.5 million for road improvements and undergrounding utilities in the Old Town District. In the work session, Councilmembers Patrice Winter, Scott Silverthorne, Gary Rasmussen, Joan Cross, and Mayor Rob Lederer discussed funds for school construction and upcoming transportation projects. Councilmembers Gail Lyon and Jeffrey Greenfield were not present.
Fairfax citizens approved an issue of $86.8 million in General Obligation Bonds for school improvements in November 2004. Bonds should be issued at a time when interest rates are low, said David Rose of Davenport and Company, LLC, the City’s financial advisors.
"Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth," said Rose. "Let’s just try and exercise it right now." Rose wanted to be able to lock in low interest rates, with the ability to refinance in the future. The council gave the go-ahead for the bond issuance.
Janice Miller, school board chairman, updated the council at the work session on the progress of school construction projects.
"Things are moving along very well for Fairfax High School," said Miller. The school board is still comparing bids for construction on Lanier Middle School, she said.
John Veneziano, director of public works, presented a resolution at the work session designating funds for a new revenue sharing program offered by the Virginia Department of Transportation. In the program, the state will match any amount up to $500,000 designated by a city for transportation projects.
PROPOSED PROJECTS, whose total cost would be $500,000, included storm drainage at Fairfax Boulevard, Meredith Drive and Oak Street, sidewalk improvements at several places along Route 123 and at Park Road, and traffic signal improvements. If VDOT matches the cost, the Fairfax Department of Transportation would have $1 million in funds for projects.
Lederer brought up the George Mason Boulevard project, which he said was short $500,000.
"Let’s not create new projects," he said. "Let’s use this for existing projects, and save some money for future ones."
Rasmussen motioned to keep the storm drainage project, sidewalk improvements at Park Road, and sidewalk work at Route 123 and Cedar Avenue on the list, but to replace two future sidewalk projects on the list with George Mason Boulevard. The council approved the resolution unanimously.
IN OTHER MATTERS, the council heard a request by Dino Andreatos, of the Business Benefits Group, to make an exception to city code 110-180 (b)(4) and 110-181(c) and allow a ground-mounted sign that exceeded the maximum width and height permitted in the code. Andreatos proposed a nine-and-a-half-foot sign for the Business Benefits Group to share with restaurant Il Lupo and the law office of Warren McClain.
Cross was worried that the sign was too large and did not comply with the ordinance set for Old Town Fairfax. The Council approved the exception in a 3-2 vote, with Cross and Rasmussen opposing and Lederer breaking the tie.
"We need to look at our parameters for the historic district," said Cross.
The City Council also voted unanimously to defer a vote on development of the Lowrey property on Orchard Drive, a controversial issue at the June 28 work session. The proposal was an issue of concern because the property in question has historic value. The public hearing had not been properly advertised, so the vote will take place Tuesday, July 26.
The consent agenda was approved unanimously. It considered approval for the fiscal year 2006 performance contract for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to provide mental health services, a one-year extension of the $25,000 contract for storm drainage maintenance with Omni Excavators, and an initiation of the rezoning of the new library site.