Where’s the Money?

Where’s the Money?

New bank would contribute to non-existent fund.

A proposal to build a new PNC Bank in Springfield brought criticism from some members of the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Oct. 26.

The proposed 10,280-square-foot bank would be built at the intersection of Backlick Road and Bland Street in Springfield’s commercial revitalization district. The two-story building would include standard bank functions, a financial services section and a 900-square-foot meeting room, which would be available for community use.

However, some commissioners were confused about PNC’s plan to contribute $20,000 to the “Springfield Transportation Fund.” The contribution was suggested by Fairfax County, however, no such fund exists.

“I have a problem with that, big time,” said Commissioner Janet Hall (Mason). Although creation of the transportation fund is currently under study, Hall was concerned that the money would go into a “black hole.”

Commission Chair Peter Murphy (Springfield) said that when a similar fund was discussed in his district several years ago, it was simply created without fanfare. “We didn’t study it, we just said we needed money,” Murphy said.

District transportation funds generally exist to provide unspecified improvements to an area. As developers build, they contribute some money to the fund, and then that money is spent on projects as need and money allow.

Lee District Planning Commissioner Rodney Lusk defended the fund. He said that this is his district’s first attempt at creating a larger transportation fund. He noted that in addition to several major projects being built in Springfield, the impact of the Base Realignment and Closure [BRAC] initiative at Fort Belvoir shifting 22,000 employees to the area will have significant transportation impacts.

“We clearly need this fund,” Lusk said. “It will not go into a black hole.”

Commissioner Walter Alcorn (at-large) said that these sorts of funds typically run into problems in two situations. The first is if it were to be a one-time contribution. The second is if the fund is for too specific a situation, which can lead to money sitting in an escrow account, unable to be spent. Neither seemed to be the case in this situation, Alcorn said.

In order to resolve the issue, and another involving a proposed piece of art, Lusk deferred decision on the case until Nov. 2.

After the Planning Commission decision, the case will go before the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final decision. It is currently scheduled for Nov. 20.

To read the staff report for the plan (case number SE-2006-LE-012) visit http://ldsnet.fairfaxcounty.gov/ldsnet/ldsdwf/4190923.PDF.