Surplus Debated

Surplus Debated

Members commend county for good intentions but request clearer planning and better follow-through.

<bt>It is rare that money is left due to over-budgeting, but it does happen on occasion. Take, for example, Fairfax County. A recent McLean Citizens Association resolution document on supplemental appropriations states that “Fairfax County has a history of underestimating budget revenues, such that, from fiscal 2001 through fiscal 2005, it over-collected a total of $372.88 million in taxes and fees above its budget estimates.”

The county executive has proposed placing a portion of this surplus money into Fairfax County’s revenue stabilization fund, or “Reserve Fund.” At last Wednesday’s McLean Citizens Association meeting, members discussed the possibility of putting all of the surplus money into the Reserve Fund.

“We strongly oppose spending any surplus revenue,” said Rob Jackson, chair of MCA’s Budget and Taxation committee. “You do your budgets in April and you’re done. You don’t have a second go at it … it is inconsistent with sound budgeting.”

Rosemary Ryan of Dranesville District Supervisor Joan Dubois' office, pointed out that “some of that surplus money is for property tax reduction for the elderly,” sparking debate about whether or not 100 percent of the surplus revenue needs to go into the Reserve Fund.

“Before we oppose something, it would be nice to know what these expenditures might be,” said MCA member Dan DuVal.

NEXTEL'S APPLICATION to build a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) along Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive was also discussed at last week’s MCA meeting. While Nextel’s application is completely in compliance with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan, some members of the MCA were not pleased with the company’s general attitude toward community inquiry.

“I was very troubled at this last meeting [with Nextel] in that they stiff-armed MCA by failing to comply with our requests for additional information,” said MCA member Frank Crandall.

Georgetown Pike Association President and MCA member John Adams also pointed out that the system was mainly being built to support cellular coverage for drivers on Georgetown Pike — a potentially dangerous road for cellular phone conversations. He added that while the application was for “a relatively unintrusive system,” the Georgetown Pike Association’s concern was that it is “only designed to meet the needs of one service provider.”

“And there will be other service providers coming down the Pike,” said Adams.

Despite these concerns, the MCA voted to approve the application but requested that Nextel be more responsive to their informational inquiries.

“They did what they wanted to do and nothing else, and I don’t like that one bit,” said MCA member Mark Zetts in reference to Nextel’s attitude during the presentation of their application. “But it is somewhat of a perfect application and it is definitely preferable to monopoles.”

CONCERNS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT and the preservation of streams dominated the last half-hour of MCA’s monthly meeting. Frank Crandall, chair of MCA's Environment, Parks & Recreation committee, presented the MCA's resolution requesting that Fairfax County put a moratorium on all stream declassification, and that the County take steps to make sure that perennial streams are no longer destroyed as a result of this loophole in stream protection laws.

“There are certain standards to determine the perennial status of a stream, but a provision was made so that you can challenge this status and say that it is intermittent,” said Crandall.

According to him, this provision has enabled developers to build on land at the expense of the environment.

MCA's resolution on the Environment and Quality of Life in McLean commended the Board of Supervisors for its recently adopted Environmental Vision for Fairfax County, but emphasized the need for "adequate implementing and legislation."