Fairfax County Receives Two Virginia Association of Counties Awards


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)
publicaffairs@fairfaxcounty.gov

Aug. 13, 2007

Fairfax County Receives Two Virginia Association of Counties Awards

Two Fairfax County agencies have been selected to receive Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) Achievement Awards. The Park Authority’s Community Connections program and the Department of Tax Administration’s Tax Relief Outreach will be honored at an official ceremony during VACo’s 2007 Annual Conference in November.

The VACo Achievement Awards competitive program is open to local government members of the association. Held annually, it recognizes local government programs in nine categories. Award criteria include innovation, collaboration and model practices.

“This is not just an awards program,” VACo Executive Director James Campbell said. “These projects represent innovative ideas with positive results that can be replicated throughout the state and the country.”

Of the 43 entries for this year’s honors, 13 were selected including the two from Fairfax County:

Community Connections
In Fairfax County, demographics are shifting. New immigrants from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East are adding new diversity to communities. More than 100 languages are spoken and minorities now account for more than 40 percent of the population. As the face of Fairfax County continues to change, the Park Authority is challenged to adapt its facilities and programs to diverse user groups.

Community Connections is a comprehensive outreach and education effort aimed at listening to, engaging and building trust with increasingly diverse park users. By creating awareness of recreational resources currently available; increasing access to services by eliminating cultural and communications barriers; and developing new programs and facilities, Community Connections is helping the Park Authority better serve the population.

Tax Relief Outreach Program
Fairfax County provides real estate tax and personal property tax relief for residents 65 and older and individuals permanently and totally disabled. The county also offers rental grants to eligible older adults and those with disabilities. The tax relief program has been authorized by the Board of Supervisors since 1974.

As the board has increased allowable income and asset limits, the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) expanded its Tax Relief Outreach Program to help build an awareness of the program to ensure those who meet the eligibility requirements are able to participate. To further the board’s policy of helping elderly and disabled residents, DTA pursued its vision of a broad “outreach” campaign, in many cases providing residents with on-site assistance and eligibility information regarding tax relief. The county staff contacts residents and schedules personal appointments; makes home visits to incapacitated residents; visits senior and assisted living centers; and attends tax relief workshops hosted by members of the Board of Supervisors. Letters are sent to homeowner and civic associations and local churches offering to provide tax relief presentations. In 2006, DTA staff attended 28 workshops, conducted 31 home visits and assisted more than 678 county residents in completing tax relief applications. Overall, the program provides tax relief to more than 8,000 county residents.

For more information about Tax Relief Outreach, contact DTA’s program manager, Desiree Baltimore at 703-222-8324, TTY 711.

For more information about Community Connections at the Park Authority, call the Park Authority Public Information Office, 703-324-8662, TTY 711.

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