Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerald Hyland used his time before the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens’ Associations monthly meeting at Walt Whitman Middle School March 22 to focus on issues of housing and finances. But first he addressed Mount Vernon’s need for an added police presence. He noted that a request for more police officers will be added to the county budget, and that he will be asking the Board of Supervisors for 20 additional officers "to be allocated into those parts of the county where we are more challenged in terms of index crimes."
"We will be getting more police officers in the Mount Vernon District," he assured the Council.
Hyland went on to describe his perspective on the controversial developments occurring at King’s Crossing and North Hill. At King’s Crossing, community members and JPI Development Partners are at loggerheads over the percentage of units that should be allocated to housing and commercial use. Hyland described situation as "tough." He said the developer’s current position, a ratio of 75 percent commercial units to 25 percent housing, is unacceptable. He added that his opinion is in accord with his constituents’. "I’m still looking for someone in the Mount Vernon District who does support [the current JPI proposal]." But he did suggest the starting point for a compromise. "Unless they come to me with a 60-40 proposal, they’re wasting their time. If they commit to do that, then we’ll talk to them."
Turning his attention to North Hill, Hyland stayed clear of the fracas that is brewing over how the property on Route 1 near Lockheed Boulevard will be used. Although it is zoned by the county for residential development, the district’s comprehensive plan calls for it to be left as parkland. This ambiguity has led to disagreement between advocates for open space and advocates for affordable housing in the form of mobile homes. Hyland did not cater to, or displease, either group, saying there is still not enough information for him to take a firm stance on the issue. "It’s a tough nomination. I attended the Area Plan Review Task Force meeting. My reaction to the meeting [was that] there were an awful lot of questions that were asked and not answered … We really need the opportunity to get all the facts on the table and let people know what the facts are ... What would the county Redevelopment and Housing Authority want to do with the site?" he asked. "What would the park authority want to do with it?" Even with these unanswered questions, Hyland had a way forward that might placate all parties. "It’s a tough nut… This is my personal opinion, I think there may be an opportunity to accommodate the park people and leave some trees on that site" and also put up affordable housing units.
Hyland condemned the county’s elimination of the automobile sticker tax. He advised that if the county has decided to cut he $23 million in revenue, the amount it will lose by eliminating the vehicle sticker tax, it should do so in a different way, by taking another penny off the property tax rate. "We’re going to have to decide what’s more important. Politically [cutting the car tax] is very important," he said, referring to the goodwill among voters that politicians hope the action will stimulate. But, he added, no one has ever come to him and complained about paying for the sticker, "even though you’ve got to scrape it off every year."
Finally, Hyland addressed an issue in which he held a personal interest: the salaries of Fairfax County Supervisors. He explained that because the current salary is inadequate for the average citizen of Fairfax, it unnaturally tilts the demographics of the Board of Supervisors toward those who are wealthy enough to be able to afford earning less than they spend. "To meet the basic needs of a family [of four in Fairfax County], you need about $66,000. Supervisors earn 59,000 … It limits the type of people that can run for that position. The position should by law be full time, one. Pay it full time, two. Prohibit other employment, three. That will be my position when this comes before the board … do it and I’ll support it. If you don’t do that, I won’t."