At the Board’s business meeting last Tuesday night I put forward an item to address the issue of people ‘panhandling’ at stoplights within Loudoun County. I have heard from so many of you about how this is a nuisance for our community, and I too have been very concerned about the traffic safety hazard this causes. My item puts in motion a process that will allow an ordinance to be codified banning this activity. I hope to have this process completed by the spring. One concern with this new ordinance is the firefighters’ annual ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign. The Board has directed County staff to work with the ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign to find suitable alternative locations for fundraising. I was pleased that my colleagues on the Board unanimously supported the item, and I hope it will address this important community concern.
We are continuing as a Board to work on bringing more quality businesses to Loudoun to increase our commercial tax base. The County has agreed to sell 75.4 acres of the ‘Farmwell Site’ to Raging Wire, a data-center company based in California, for $20 million. The County purchased 100 acres in 2004 for $13.5 million and will use a portion of the property for the future Discovery Elementary School and for ball fields. The sale to Raging Wire will allow the land to be put back on the tax rolls. Raging Wire plans to develop a 750,000 square foot facility, generating up to $16 million per year in property tax revenue. I want to thank our Department of Economic Development for their hard work in bringing this company to Loudoun, especially considering the tough competition from other localities. I want to keep our economic development efforts strong so we can continue to expand the commercial tax base and lower property taxes for homeowners.
Late in September the Board held a strategic retreat where we prioritized issues facing Loudoun. Transportation was the top issue, and we agreed on a priority list of unfunded projects to address. The top unfunded project was the widening of Route 606 behind the airport. This project is vital for commuter traffic and future economic development at the airport. Additionally, Route 606 must be widened before it could handle the traffic of a much needed pass-through from Loudoun County Parkway. The next two priorities were securing more funding for improvements on Waxpool Road and widening Belmont Ridge Road to four lanes, which is needed for safety reasons.
At the retreat representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced that the Governor’s office has agreed to fund $7 million towards Waxpool Road improvements. I have been working with the state to secure this funding since I took office. Earlier in the summer, the Board approved my proposed project to fix the intersections at Pacific Boulevard and Broderick Drive, and the design process in currently underway for those improvements. With this additional funding I am working with VDOT to expand the scope of the project to include more problem intersections on Waxpool Road.
At the last Board meeting at the beginning of October, we were asked to provide fiscal guidance to the County Administrator to prepare the budget for Fiscal Year 2014. I voted for the fiscal guidance that would result in an equalized amount for County government operations with regard to the current tax rate, and would lower the schools’ fund transfer by three cents. This is preliminary fiscal guidance; the School Board will come up with its own budget.
I have stated publically that I think we have top-heavy management at the administration level, and I am concerned the funding is not getting down to the classrooms and teachers. I am also concerned that the School Board, which is doing a great job, is not getting all the information they need to make budgetary decisions. I also want the Schools to be able to work with the Government Reform Commission to find areas of consolidation with the County government. For example, it is probably not the most efficient use of resources to have separate construction offices. I hope that increased cooperation and transparency will help streamline costs and get funds to the classroom.
Having three young children myself, the oldest of which is in first grade this year at Mill Run, I am extremely vested in keeping our schools top notch. Last year the School Board informed the Board of Supervisors that there are efficiencies to be found. Consequently, this year we will utilize that guidance and see where we can save money. Simply put, we want to make sure every tax dollar is being utilized in the most cost-effective manner possible. That is what this fiscal guidance is about. Moving forward, I expect to have a healthy dialogue with the School Board about their needs and will do all I can to ensure funding is in place to continue to give our children a great education.
Earlier this month, the Loudoun Hounds announced their intention to move their proposed stadium to the One Loudoun development. While the original plan was to have this stadium at the Kincora development, both the Hounds and Kincora have informed me that they are unable to work out differences related to the timeline of the stadium opening. It has always been my goal to have baseball here in Loudoun because I think it will be very beneficial in turning Loudoun into a 'destination,' which will help our commercial tax base and lower taxes for everyone.
I have heard from many of you with concerns about traffic, noise and lighting. The proposed stadium must go through a legislative process in front of both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, where I plan to address these concerns. I want to work with the community and have a process that is transparent and helpful. I will be at Potomac Green (with Chairman York) on Nov. 14 at 6:30 pm and at the Ashbrook HOA on Nov. 20 at 7pm to discuss this issue, as well as talk about traffic and road improvements in the area. Please come to those meetings if you have any questions or concerns.
As always, please feel free to call me at 703-771-5088 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You can also read more about what I’m doing on Facebook.
Transportation Project Spotlight: Route 28 ‘Hotspot’ Widening
The Route 28 Transportation District Commission (which manages the Route 28 tax district), on which I serve as Vice Chairman, met on Friday and approved $5 million in funding to widen the southbound bridge over the Dulles Toll Road to four lanes. This is the first ‘hotspot’ improvement that will begin to unclog the traffic bottleneck every morning. The second phase of the hotspot improvements will be widening southbound Route 28 to four lanes from Waxpool Road to the Dulles Toll Road. The Commission also directed staff to apply for various grants to complete this section. This project has already been designed, so it is ready for construction once funding is found. I will be working with my colleagues and hope to have this funding secured by the next Commission meeting in the spring.
Community Events and Information
Ashburn Volunteer Fire & Rescue Pancake Breakfast: The next monthly breakfast will be from 8:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday, November 4th at Station 6 on Ashburn Road (celebrating Veteran’s Day). For more information, including cost, please click here.
Fall Multimodal Transportation Meeting: The Secretary of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board will again conduct nine 2012 Fall Multimodal Transportation Public Meetings across the state in October and November to give stakeholders the opportunity to review and provide comments on projects and programs to be included in the Fiscal Year 2014-2019 Six-Year Improvement Program (FY14-19 SYIP), including highway, rail and public transportation initiatives. We want to build on the efforts during last year’s fall meetings, and it is important that we hear from you and your constituents about those projects you feel are the highest priority for the state’s limited transportation funds. The Northern Virginia meeting, beginning at 6 pm, will be held on Tuesday, October 30th at the Virginia Department of Transportation, District Office Potomac Conference Center at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA. If you can’t attend the meeting you can also send comments to Diane Mitchell, Virginia Department of Transportation at 1401 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219 or e-mail them to Six-YearProgram@vdot.virginia.gov by November 30, 2012.
Loudoun County Adult Day Centers are County owned and operated licensed adult day centers for seniors with physical limitations or memory loss. Safe, inviting, well-staffed Centers are located in Purcellville, Leesburg and Ashburn. These centers provide respite for caregivers and a social environment with therapeutic activities and exercise, individualized personal care, nutritious lunch and snacks, medication administration, health monitoring, limited transportation and reasonable sliding scale fees for participants. Centers are open weekdays 7:30AM - 5:30PM, in Leesburg 703-771-5334; in Purcellville 571-258-3402 and in Ashburn 571-258-3232 with video available online at: www.loudoun.gov/adultday
Mobile Hope: Inova Mobile Health Services – Loudoun travels throughout Loudoun County helping precariously housed and at risk youth in Loudoun County through Mobile Hope. If you are 18 years or younger, homeless or precariously housed in Loudoun County, and need help - Mobile Hope can help, no questions asked. To volunteer, donate, or receive more information on this important program click here. You may also contact Donna Fortier, Community Affairs Executive and Director of Mobile Health Services, at her office (703) 858-8935 or email Donna.Fortier2@inova.org.
Backpack Buddies: The Back Pack Buddies Program was established at Galilee United Methodist Church (GUMC) in January 2011. The program is supported by generous donations of food, money, and time from the congregants of Galilee. Currently, the program serves 260 children weekly at Meadowland and Countryside Elementary Schools and Seneca Ridge Middle School. There are several other organizations that have adopted other schools within Loudoun. How You Can Help: There are ongoing opportunities to sort food and pack the backpacks:
- Visit the pantry in room 304 by the GUMC gym any Sunday. The pantry will be open for packing on the first and third Sundays of each month at 10 am.
- To sign up for a packaging time other than Sunday morning, use this form. We welcome scouts, families, small groups, and others at your convenience during the week. Please request a time, and we’ll contact you.
- Make a financial donation: Cash allows us to order more food in bulk, and thus get savings in that regard, but we're thankful for however the program moves people to respond. http://www.galileeumc.org/giving/give-online/ or you can mail a check - 45425 Winding Road, Sterling, VA 20165.
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Companies: October is recognized each year as Fire Prevention Month. As part of this month, Loudoun County's Volunteer Fire and Rescue Companies host open houses to welcome the public into their stations, teach fire safety to schools and community organizations, and use this opportunity to conduct their annual fundraising efforts.
The fire and rescue system in Loudoun County is made up of both volunteers from our communities and paid employees from Loudoun County. This system, known as a Combination System, allows Loudoun County government to provide the most cost effective fire and rescue services to our citizens.
The Broad Run District is served by the Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company, and the Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad. Each of these volunteer agencies owns and operates their stations, fire engines and ambulances, as well as provides the primary staffing for response units on nights and weekends. Loudoun County supplements these companies with staffing during the normal work week and also provides financial support to assist with some of the annual operating costs.
Even with the support from County Government, there still exists a significant funding gap for each of these organizations to cover their annual operating costs and the costs for long term capital purchases like fire engines, ambulances and station renovations. It is important that residents do their part to help support their local volunteer fire and rescue company's fund raising programs each year. Donations made to your volunteer fire and rescue company go directly to providing these services that protect your family and home.
For more information on how you can support your local volunteer fire and rescue company please visit their web sites:
www.ashburnfirerescue.org - Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue
www.sterlingfire.org - Sterling Volunteer Fire Company
www.sterlingrescue.org - Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad