$182 Million Sought for Public Safety in Fairfax County

$182 Million Sought for Public Safety in Fairfax County

Voters to decide bond referendum to fund improvements to fire stations, criminal justice academy, and courthouse.

Bond Referendum Verbatim

Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $182,000,000 to provide funds, in addition to funds from public safety facilities bonds previously authorized, to finance, including reimbursement to the County for temporary financing for, the costs of public safety facilities, including the construction, reconstruction, enlargement, renovation and equipment of civil and criminal justice facilities, police training and operational facilities and stations, fire and rescue training facilities and stations, including fire and rescue stations owned by volunteer organizations, and the acquisition of necessary land?

The county will ask voters to approve $182 million to renovate, expand and replace fire and police department and Circuit Court facilities on election day, Nov. 6.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the $182 million public safety bond referendum at its July 31 and June 19 meetings.

$73 million would be earmarked for improvements to four fire stations — Mount Vernon ($16 million), Fairview ($16 million), Gunston ($13 million), and Seven Corners ($13 million) — that are all 37 years or older.

The county fire stations require the replacement of major building subsystems, such as HVAC and electrical systems. And facility improvements would expand equipment bays to provide adequate space for apparatus and space for staffing requirements, as well as to enhance bunk-rooms and locker facilities for male and female personnel, according to county documents. There were few if any female fire and rescue personnel 37 years ago.

An additional $15 million would be used to improve one of the eight volunteer station that is more than 40 years old.

“Staff is currently reviewing the various capital needs of these eight volunteer stations and would return to the board with the follow-on recommendation for station specific capital improvements,” according to county documents. “In addition, the bond includes temporary fire stations to maintain operations during construction.”

THE POLICE DEPARTMENT would receive $59 million: $18 million to renovate and expand the Mason District Station which was built in 1975; $18 million to renovate and upgrade its Criminal Justice Academy used to train 2,300 officers, deputies, and police and sheriff’s recruits from the county police and sheriff offices as well as the towns of Herndon and Vienna; and $18 million to renovate, expand or replace the Police Evidence Storage Building used to store evidence for court cases.

The Mason District Station, built in 1975, does not have adequate office, storage, workout, or interview spaces to support operations, according to county documents, and needs upgraded building systems and infrastructure improvements.

The Police Evidence Storage Building also houses the warrant desk and the victim services section.

“Adequate climate controlled storage is needed to properly store this property in an organized manner. Strict accountability and oversight are also necessary to meet accreditation standards,” according to county documents. Currently, “the second and third floors are not able to adequately support high density storage, which limits storage above the first floor of the building.”

THE ADULT DETENTION Center needs $45 million of improvements to three wings of the detention center, including plumbing, electrical, HVAC, elevator and fire protection systems as well as security and camera equipment. $5 million would be used to improve the Jennings Judicial Center.

“The original Jennings Building was completed in the early 1980s and the courtrooms have been in constant use by the public since that time. To keep them operational and enhance their efficiency, these courtrooms require improved lighting, ductwork realignment, ADA upgrades, carpeting, wall and ceiling replacement/repairs, refinishing of the gallery benches, renovation of the jury rooms and technology upgrades,” according to county documents.

BY LAW, the money from the bonds may only be used for the purpose stated in the ballot question.

“While the project lists for the public safety bonds represent the current proposals regarding what projects to fund, the ballot question is phrased more generally, to allow the board flexibility as to precisely which projects to fund with the bond proceeds,” according to county documents.

The Office of Public Affairs traditionally prepares and distributes an informational pamphlet that is mailed to all county households to help inform the public about the referendum. The pamphlet will be translated into the most widely spoken non-English languages in the county, including Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on the public safety bond question. If ultimately approved, the county plans to sell $182 million in general obligation bonds to make the renovations and improvements.