Opinion: Column

Opinion: Column

Support County Bonds

— By Paul Krizek

State Delegate (D-44)

Everybody knows about the Presidential election on the ballot. In previous weeks I have also written about the Meals Tax and the “right-to-work” constitutional amendment that will hurt the middle class.

There are also three bond issues on the ballot on Nov. 8 totaling $312 million to address the county’s infrastructure needs in transportation, parks and their facilities, and human services and community development.

The transportation referendum question asks if the county may issue up to $120 million in bonds to fund the county’s share of Metro’s Capital Improvement Program and road improvements.

The parks referendum question asks if the county may issue up to $107 million in bonds for additional parks and park facilities, preservation of open space and the improvement of existing parks owned and operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority and by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

The human services and community development referendum question asks if the county may issue up to $85 million in bonds for human services facilities and community development facilities across the County.

Fairfax County’s bond program is designed to avoid increasing tax rates. As a result of strict adherence to sound fiscal management policies and their consistent implementation, Fairfax County has a great reputation for responsible financial management. Indeed, Fairfax County has held an AAA bond rating, the highest possible bond rating for a local government, since 1978.

Bonds are an important feature of the county’s ability to provide the capital infrastructure for existing services and programs already in the budget and being paid for by taxpayer dollars. They also allow the county to finance projects with money up front and complete deliverables sooner.

To finance a major capital project without a bond would require the county to raise taxes. Bonds allow the county to align the cost of what the infrastructure project is needed for with the value across generations.

Most importantly, it is key that voters understand the purpose of the referenda. The approval of these bond referendums is the authorization, by the voters, for the county to issue debts although the county does not automatically issue it. The county operates under the same financial advice most of us operate by as well: do not take out more debts unless necessary. Many constituents have proposed the idea of buying out old buildings and renovating existing infrastructure rather than building new in order to save costs. That is always an option the county looks at and has been utilized in the past.

One of the beneficiaries of the human services bond would be a new Lorton Community Center which would house the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) and Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) programs, the Lorton Senior Center and age level offerings for kids and teens.

Currently, the Lorton Senior Center is over capacity in the rented space they have at Gunston Plaza. And the LCAC has been providing summer lunch programs to neighborhood children for the last three years. The new space would allow them to meet the basic (pantry, emergency rent/utility) needs of the 220-plus families they see every week, and provide ESL, financial management and other adult educational opportunities to better families’ lives. The additional space would allow LCAC and NCS to partner to meet the increasing needs in this portion of South County.

I urge you to vote for these important bond issues.