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On The Ballot: Fairfax County Bond Issues

Voter referendum for money for a new Reston Regional Library, parks and other public works.

Money for studying a plan for a new Reston Regional Library will be part of the bond referenda Fairfax County voters will be asked on Nov. 6.

On Election Day, local voters will be asked to vote YES or NO on four separate bond questions in the general election for:

Ten million dollars of the library money will be allocated for construction of a new Reston Regional Library. The library is currently located north of  Reston Town Center. Because this area will be near the planned Reston Parkway Metro station, it may be redeveloped into a more urban, mixed-use center with government facilities. As part of the redevelopment, the library may be relocated within this area north of town center.

Bond funds will be used for the site studies, design and construction once the library location is confirmed, county officials said. None of the bonds are expected to raise tax rates for residents.

The remaining money will go towards renovations for Pohick Regional Library ($5 million); John Marshall Library ($5 million); and Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library ($5 million)

These older libraries will be renovated to add more public computers; enhance wireless access; add quiet and group study spaces; and upgrade old building systems to improve their energy efficiency and operations.

The park bond, if approved by voters, will help pay for improvements to many county parks.  Of the total, $63 million will go the Fairfax County Park Authority, and $12 million will pay for the county's share of costs to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

For county parks, money will be spent in four areas (to see more details, click here):

  • Land acquisition and stewardship ($12.9 million)
  • Community parks and new facilities ($7.2 million)
  • Facility expansion ($19 milliion)
  • Existing facility renovation ($23.3 milliion)

If approved by voters, the $55 million public safety bond will pay to rebuild three fire stations and renovate 22 courtrooms in the Fairfax County Courthouse.

Of the total, $35 million will go towards the fire stations, and $20 million will pay to renovate courtrooms. Fire stations that will be renovated:  Baileys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Station ($9 million);  Jefferson Fire Station ($14 million); and Herndon Fire Station ($12 million)

Courthouse improvements include renovations to 22 courtrooms (nine General District Court and 13 for the Circuit Court).  The renovations will improve security; fix walls, ceilings, ducts, and lighting; make required American with Disabilities Act upgrades; and upgrade technology for digital evidence presentation, video arraignments, and remote witness testimony.

If approved by voters, the $30 million stormwater bond will pay to build a levee and pumping station to protect the Huntington neighborhood from flooding.

During the past 10 years, three floods have damaged homes, vehicles and other property in this neighborhood, and there are 180 homes in the FEMA-designated floodplain that are at risk in the future.

At Fairfax County’s request, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studied the best ways to protect Huntington from future floods. The study examined a number of options, including dredging Cameron Run, buying the flood-prone properties and flood proofing individual homes. It found that a levee and a pumping station are the most cost-effective way to protect Huntington.

Fairfax County will hold an online chat to answer bond questions on Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. For more info, click here.

To read Frequently Asked Questions about the bond referenda, click here.

John Smith October 09, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Two questions: 1.) Why would anyone ever build (or buy) a home in a "FEMA-designated floodplain"? and 2.) If someone did build (or buy) a home in a FEMA-designated floodplain, why would they expect Fairfax County taxpayers to spend $30 million to protect their home from flooding? Just asking.
The Convict October 09, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Vote NO to all bonds because Fairfax County doesn't need more debt. If we really want these things, then let them either cut other spending or jack up the real estate tax. Or better yet, lean on the developers that seem to be plaguing our community like locusts.
reston on my laurels October 09, 2012 at 01:18 PM
It was my understanding that mortgage companies required FEMA backed flood insurance if you lived in a FEMA flood plain. Is this not correct?
Skip Endale October 09, 2012 at 02:50 PM
There are several designations. You can live in a 10 year floodplain, a fifty year flood plain or a 100 year floodplain etc. Regardless, you can still get flooded every year. If you are interested you can order a CD-ROM or a map from the FEMA distribution centre floodsmart.gov - It will show you the property of interest and how it fairs in terms of flooding. If your property does get flooded out too frequently there is a strong chance that FEMA or some government agency will step in and buy it from you, and further building permits on that property may be suspended. I could go on and on... but adding to the flooding potential are new buildings, parking lots, and roads. Therefore, homes that previously were not in a flood plain may now be in one. If you walk down the W&OD you can see how erosion resulted in damage to the pathways and changes to the streambed. To protect these and other public resources 30 million dollars is a small investment when you take into account that Fairfax County generates an annual GDP of 95 billion. This investment should protect the counties' 390 square miles from flushing into the bay. And now to your questions: 1. because its a free country 2. thirty million dollars does not protect a single specific property but it protects the counties' public interest John, good questions -
Bob Bruhns October 09, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Isn't it strange that we get to vote on bonds in the tens of millions of dollars, but we don't get to vote on bonds in the hundreds of millions of dollars, such as for the Silver Line.
John Doe October 09, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Why should we authorize our corrupt government to borrow on our behalf? Why should we authorize any government to spend what it does NOT have? In reality, the majority of the economics from these borrowed funds goes to indirectly (or directly) support the "PONZI" scheme known as the Fairfax County Retirement System.
Fred Costello October 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Some flooding is due to I-495 construction, so the Federal government should have paid for flood prevention or should now pay for remediation. If a project is justified, whether a bond is a good idea for funding it depends on the voter's return on investment. The County has been paying approximately 4.7% interest on its bonds, although a new bond should carry a lower interest rate. If your return on investments (e.g., mortgage, interest income, capital-gains income) is more than 4.7%, the bond is a better idea than paying from the County's general fund; otherwise, it is not. On the other hand, not all authorized bonds have been sold, so a new bond may not be necessary. In addition, the County frequently circumvents the ballot box (the wishes of the people) on bonds by having the Economic Development Agency (EDA) issue revenue bonds, with the revenue coming from rent paid from the County's operating budget. EDA bonds do not require citizen approval.
Tom W October 10, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Why would we take comments seriously when they are from John Doe?
Kathy October 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Where they are planning on moving the library? Will there be parking? Kathy Kaplan
The Analyst October 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM
"Because this area will be near the planned Reston Parkway Metro station, it may be redeveloped into a more urban, mixed-use center with government facilities. As part of the redevelopment, the library may be relocated within this area north of town center." Welfare for developers if I've ever seen it! Every single item regarding the economy is pointing at a federal decline in both size and spending with a corresponding lack of growth, with likely negative growth in this area, and yet the county is acting like it's boom town city. We seriously, seriously need to start scrutinizing people we put in office. I think my dog would be more apt than any of our "supervisors." Oh, and that's a bipartisan comment - it applies to both.
M. Bleriot October 11, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I'm not a fan of government debt but in this case the stormwater bond is the cheapest and most realistic option available to the neighborhood. With only two or three more floods, we'll spend $30million in emergency services, utility repairs, and lawsuits. A levee gives the neighborhood relief and keeps open the option to redevelop it in the future, either as another type of neighborhood or with the townhome-style that right now wouldn't be interested in the place anyway.
John Doe October 11, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Tom, Why shouldn't we take comments seriously when they are from John Doe?
Chris Stephenson October 11, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Can I add a 5th bond of $10 Million - my house floods from time to time during heavy rain storms. This will allow me to instead by a home in a better area. $600,000 will be used towards the home, while $9.4 million will be used toward a "study" to determine where that home should be. Because I will be conducting this study on my own, I will be paying myself a salary of $9 million. The rest of the $400,000 will be used to offset any expenses. I am going to do my best to come in under budget, but we may have to have another bond at the next election to help offset any unexpected costs. Thanks guys!
John Doe October 11, 2012 at 06:57 PM
+1 and hilarious!

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