Next Tuesday, Feb. 28, City Manager Bob Sisson will present his proposed FY ’18 budget for the City of Fairfax. Among other things, it will include funds for some of the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) requested by various City entities.
These requests were presented at a joint work session of City Council and the Planning Commission, and speaking were representatives of the City schools and the Fire, Police, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works departments. Whether they’ll be fulfilled won’t be known until the new budget is actually approved.
Fire Chief John O’Neal asked for $280,000 for just one item, this fiscal year – the continuation of the traffic-preemption upgrade that began a few years ago. It upgrades apparatus and intersections to GPS traffic-preemption technology to improve safety of responders and citizens, plus potentially reduce emergency-response times.
Presenting the Police Department’s request were Capt. Mitch Johnson and Maj. K.C. Caldwell. First was $991,000 for a mobile and portable radio upgrade. “Our current radio hardware is reaching its end of life, we can’t get replacement parts for it and it won’t work with the new Fairfax County [communication] system,” explained Caldwell.
Needed are 80 portable and 61 mobile radios. Johnson said it’s “cheaper to buy the radios all at once and to have them all on the same software patches.” And Caldwell noted that City police would be able to communicate with other jurisdictions, too, and most of their exchanges would be encrypted.
Also needed is $174,200 to replace three cruisers and a motorcycle for patrol, plus $78,784 to maintain the current IT program, replace servers and network devices and purchase and replace storage devices. As of Feb. 1, all the 911 servers were upgraded to log directly into the county’s 911 system at its emergency-operations headquarters and also into a secondary path to the county in case the main system goes down.
Police also requested $25,000 for year two of a multi-year, police headquarters security system upgrade. Analog cameras must be replaced with digital ones to increase video backup.
Information Technology Director Mark Perry said the virtual server system will reach its end of life in 2019, as will the data storage system in 2020, so he asked for $400,000 between FY 18-22, with $100,000 of it needed now. “We’re going to shrink the size of our storage system so we can save on power, heating, air conditioning and space,” he said. And in conjunction with the upgrade of the Police Department’s 911 system from analog to digital, Perry requested $150,000.
Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Salgado had several items on her wish list, including five new projects: Providence Park rectangular field renovation, $100,000; Thaiss Park field renovation, $50,000; ADA compliance in parks, $125,000; a Toro utility vehicle, $30,000; and Ashby Pond dredging, $200,000. Also requested was $50,000 for design and construction of a dog park.
“We’re focusing on safety, maintenance and accessibility, as well as playground replacements for the ones that don’t meet ADA requirements,” she said. Regarding the dog park, Salgado said, “A lot of people want one here. It involves fencing, signage, access to water and parking and doesn’t cost very much to construct.”
She said the money for Ashby Pond is to remove the remaining silt left in it after it was built in 2011. “About 1,500 cubic yards of silt are left, and more is building up,” explained Salgado. “We’d like to meet with an engineer about it and develop a better plan for the pond.”
- Public Works Director David Summers requested money for several projects, saying the majority involved maintenance, plus some repairs. Some $1.6 million is needed for the concrete curb and gutter maintenance that must be done before streets are milled and paved.
Also included is $160,000 to install streetlights on George Mason Boulevard, $2.1 million for street repaving, $5.6 million toward upgrading the Noman Cole wastewater treatment plant, $125,000 to video-inspect storm-water drainage lines to prioritize repairs, $430,000 to do neighborhood drainage projects where there’s been flooding, and $150,000 to add a sidewalk on the west side of University Drive from Wood Road to Stratford Avenue.
- School Superintendent Peter Noonan described his requests for the City’s schools as “responsive and needs-based.” They include $25,000 for paving repairs to parking areas and bus loops at all four schools; $20,000 for concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk repairs at the schools; and $69,165 to replace air-conditioning and/or heating-unit components at the schools, as needed.
He also requested $15,000 for ongoing roof maintenance at Lanier Middle and Fairfax High schools; $75,000 for stucco repairs at Fairfax High; $139,100 to eventually replace the more than 30-year-old elevator at Lanier; $72,000 to replace the carpets at Daniels Run and Providence elementaries with tile; $80,000 to extend the lighting further up Rebel Run and upgrade it to provide better nighttime lighting there; and $35,000 for unforeseen equipment repairs and replacements in the schools.
- Lastly, Finance Director David Hodgkins his needs assessment and told the funding needed. It included $75,000 for a 64-80 niche columbarium to add more burial sites without acquiring new land, $70,000 to complete the stabilization and restoration project at the Blenheim House and $200,000 to upgrade accounting and human-resources software that was originally implemented in 2006. Hodgkins described it as “old and antiquated and past its useful life.”