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Week in Alexandria

Knuckling Down

Councilman Paul Smedberg and Councilwoman Alicia Hughes clashed repeatedly this week about when and how council members should consider a proposal to add Sunday deliveries for Meals on Wheels. The disagreement grew so heated that Mayor Bill Euille had to gavel the meeting back to order.

“We’re getting a bit hot under the collar,” said Euille. “We probably need to call it a night.”

But they didn’t call it a night. In fact, the contentious budget work session lasted another 45 minutes. The two continued to quarrel about a dispute dating back to last year, when Hughes asked for a $57,000 appropriation to fund deliveries for Meals on Wheels program on Sundays. Council members balked at considering a budget request outside the budget process, and the effort was tabled. This year, Hughes asked for a $60,000 appropriation to fund the same program as part of the budget process. But during a Monday night meeting at City Hall, Smedberg said she should have requested a budget memorandum on the issue.

“With all due respect, Paul,” responded Hughes. “A year ago when you voted …”

“You should have put in a budget memo,” interjected Smedberg.

“Excuse me,” responded Hughes.

“You should have put in a budget memo,” said Smedberg repeating himself.

The two began talking over one another, and Hughes said that Smedberg was “out of order.” The mayor moved the discussion to the next item, which was an effort by Councilman Rob Krupicka to create a new city employee to keep track of the school system’s budget. Euille pointed out that Krupicka hadn’t asked for a budget memo on the item.

“This is the second example of something that has been pointed to for which there was no formal request,” said Hughes, adding that she would support the measure. “Nevertheless, we are not getting the same outrage or uproar over the fact that this is being requested.”

“Well no one is supporting it,” said Smedberg.

“I’m supporting it,” responded Hughes, prompting the mayor to use his knuckles as a gavel again.

Obamacare in Alexandria

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering the fate of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, federal officials are still moving forward with the healthcare overhaul. And one Alexandria organization stands to gain half a million dollars.

This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced eight Virginia community health centers are getting $16.7 million in federal funding to help pay for capital improvements. One of the centers is the Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, which is located in Arlandria. The center will receive a $495,000 from the Affordable Health Care Act, which provides $9.5 billion to expand services in five years and $1.5 billion to pay for construction and renovation of the centers.

“For many Americans, community health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases,” said Sebelius in a written statement. “This investment will expand our ability to provide high-quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country.”

Blue Gold

It’s official. The Alexandria Police Department is gold, or at least their headquarters is.

This week, the Green Building Certification Institute awarded gold certification in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The LEED certification was awarded to recognize that the building was designed and constructed using strategies that achieve high performance in sustainable site design, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

City officials say the police headquarters was designed to attain more than 30 percent energy savings with high-efficient glazing, occupancy sensors and energy-efficient mechanical equipment. The building’s bioretention ponds were also recognized, allowing the stormwater to be filtered before draining into the ground. The headquarters also has a 30,000-gallon irrigation tank to collect and reuse stormwater for irrigation.