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State of the County Chat with Chairman Bulova Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

State of the County Chat with Chairman Bulova

Join Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova on Wednesday, Jan. 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. as she answers your questions about her recent State of the County address. You can find her address online at http://bit.ly/1CddY5g.


Sharon Bulova : Hi! Thanks so much for joining me for this chat! I look forward to receiving your questions.


Anna Marie Hicks : We reside just on the edge of the FC annual cankerworm massive aerial spraying program. We are fortunate to have wooded acreage which is abundant with wildlife including many species of birds, both migratory and year round residents, aquatic life, and indigenous mammals. In 2014, we watched the spraying activity from our home. The Btk material sprayed kills winged insects that are necessary to sustain the natural ecological balance. We note that many learned scientists including Dr. Furth of the Smithsonian have publicly written letters to editors (e.g. R/C 14-20Jan2015) pointing out the lack of FC monitoring of results and lack of scientific analysis to justify this dangerous activity. Are you going to suspend 2015 Cankerworm Spraying and direct appropriate Fairfax County staff to provide formal evidence that the cankerworm is actually killing trees ?

Sharon Bulova :

Thank you so much for sharing your concern about cankerworm spraying. Aerial Spraying happens infrequently. Since 2000, the County has aerially sprayed for cankerworm 4 times. The purpose is to prevent cankerworm infestation and tree defoliation, not to eliminate cankerworms. The County has determined that the tradeoff between tree health and fewer caterpillars benefits many living creatures, as healthy trees can take decades to grow, and offers shade, food, and protection to a wide array of wild animals.

I agree that cankerworms are an important food source to birds and other creatures in Fairfax County. It is my understanding that the spray is comprised of a naturally occurring bacteria, and when used, is used in very low doses. Birds that eat caterpillars affected by this spray are not harmed. Further, caterpillars are only affected at certain stages of their development. Many are not harmed and continue to be a plentiful food source for birds in Fairfax County. 


Anonymous User : The BoS approved a permanent pay plan stemming from impressive cooperation with employee reps. The plan is fair & reasonable for both staff & the Budget. Are rumblings true that the BoS may not fully fund this new pay plan in its every first year?!? (i.e. FY 2016) It seems disappointing from a planning perspective that time & effort would have been put into creating a modest pay increase plan that may not be sustainable from the beginning! Would this not reflect poor planning? It seems to me that many employees would find a decision not to fully fund the new plan as deflating & demoralizing. But maybe these rumblings are incorrect.

Sharon Bulova : The County Executive has not yet released his budget so I do not know yet how the County Executive will address compensation in his Advertised Budget.  If you recall, as a result of the hard work of the employee groups, County staff and Board members, the new pay plan includes flexibility to fund merit increases and mark rate adjustments based on the economic realities we are facing. In other words, I believe this pay plan is truly sustainable, in good times and bad. Having said that, I fully support funding the new pay plan and will work with my colleagues on the Board to accomplish this  in FY2016.


Anonymous User : as you look at the county org chart are there any areas you have thought about combining to make the government a little leaner?

Sharon Bulova : That's a really good suggestion. The Board of Supervisors is working with the County Executive right now to prepare for a major Lines of Business Review to examine exactly that. Beginning in 2016 after the November election, new Board members will review all of our County operations with a view toward reorganizational changes that can results in savings and efficiencies.


Taylor : Excluding members of your own office, who is your favorite BOS staffer to work with?

Sharon Bulova : haha. I enjoy working with all staff members of all the BOS offices!


Walter G. Weedman : What are actions to be taken to remove rules and individuals who are principally responsible for the delay of investigation results or the killing of the unarmed Springfield, VA resident by a County police officer. This act is completely unethical and unacceptable. Responsibility needs to be identified so individual is removed.

Sharon Bulova : The amount of time the criminal investigation has taken in this case has been way too long. Our Board has asked the County Executive to immediately begin looking for independent expertise to review our policies and procedures related to officer involved shootings and other serious incidents involving our police force. While this case is unique - there are three separate investigations and a civil lawsuit related to this incident -  I am committed to making sure our policies do not result in delays should another similar situation arise.


Anonymous User : A few months ago the outlook for the next budget seemed sluggish at best - is that still the case?

Sharon Bulova : The County Executive will be releasing his advertised budget on Feb. 17. I don't expect the revenue picture to be that much different than what he provided to us in November. Specifically, flat to slightly negative changes to non-residential property values. We are very much affected by cutbacks in federal contracting, which relates directly to office space vacancies and commercial tax dollars. We're anticipating very modest increases in residential property values. The Board is up to the challenge to deal with the difficult budget, just like every year. It's an issue of determining priorities bases on what our residents values are.

I will be hosting two community dialog sessions where the budget and our community priorities will be discussed. I would love to have you participate! More info will be provided in my Byline. You can sign up on my website. 

  


Annandale : Would it be possible to extend the hours of the County Animal Shelter? The shelter is open Saturdays but not Sundays. I work Saturdays so this makes it hard for me to visit. We have 24 libraries, many of which are which are open 7 days a week and all open several evenings a week. Shouldn't our one and only animal shelter have longer hours? I'd be willing to support this with my tax dollars.

Sharon Bulova :

Annandale: Thanks for your question! I agree with you—longer shelter hours give adoptable animals a greater chance of being placed in loving homes. Currently, the shelter has extended evening hours on Tuesday-Friday. These hours, 12-7 p.m. give residents an opportunity to visit the Shelter during later hours. Coming soon, the Animal Shelter will have Sunday hours. There is no firm date yet, but please feel free to check the website and follow the shelter on Facebook for updated information.

WEBSITE:  www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter

TWITTER: @fairfaxanimals  | FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/FairfaxCountyAnimalShelter

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/FairfaxCountyAnimalShelter
 


Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation : Are there any new incentives planned to promote development in the Richmond Highway Commercial Revitalization District?

Sharon Bulova : At our Board meeting yesterday, our Board extended the Memorandum of Understanding with the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation. The Board is especially excited about growth around the New Springfield Town Center, which is close by. Also, the Board received the strategic plan for economic success in Fairfax County, which the EAC has been working on for the past several years. This plan includes great recommendations for streamlining the development process and also strategies to help drive economic development in the County. I'm also pleased that new residential units are filling up at the Shelby!  


Taylor : What is your favorite new store in the Springfield Town Center?

Sharon Bulova : I just bought a really nice jacket at Chico's at Springfield Town Center. I also had a great meal at Chuy's - great chili relleno!


Anonymous User : It may be too early for you to say, but do you like VDOT's plans for I-66? Will Metro ever be extended down 66?

Sharon Bulova : I am very interested in the changes coming to the I-66 corridor. Fairfax County continues to advocate for quality, integrated transit as part of the package which VDOT shares with potential private sector partners. Fairfax County remains committed to growing transit use in the long term and we will work to make sure that these needed roadway improvements do not preclude a future Orange Line extension. I am committed to making sure that the community is engaged in these plans.


Johnny : Wouldn't it be better if the county had 2 boards (East and West) for planning and zoning. It is crazy that people on the board and various county commissions vote on things 30 miles from where they are from. Things are approved a lot because it is voted on by members who don't really understand the issues and the effects on the neighbors.

Sharon Bulova : Yes, Fairfax County is a large county geographically. However, we are divided into 9 districts, and each district elects a supervisor with an office/government center in their district. Each supervisor has a professional staff that serves their community. Some supervisors have land use committees within their district, as well as a planning commissioner who addresses district land use issues.  


Interested in Alexandria : What's one service you wish the county could offer that it does not right now? What's one service you think the county should not be doing?

Sharon Bulova : Fairfax County is always changing and evolving. The Board routinely examines the services that we provide to make sure that we're investing in our current priorities and needs. In an earlier question, I mentioned the Lines of Business Review that the BOS will be conducting after the Nov. election. Recently, the Board directed our public safety agencies to look at staffing requirements for the next several years based on increasing urbanization in Fairfax County. This study indicates the need for changes in staffing to continue the low crime rate and responsiveness of our public safety officials. The Board will look at ways to resource these needs.

The Board has also focused on the needs of our older community as our demographics are changing.


Concerned homeowner : Hello, we recently received a letter saying there was going to be a deer hunt in a McLean park near our home. Are there public hearings on this, it seems like there is a safety issue involved? Do you know how many deer hunts are held in the county, and for how long? Thanks for your great work.

Sharon Bulova : I can't speak specifically to the managed hunt in McLean. I do know that animal control conducts community outreach opportunities for residents to ask questions and learn about our deer management program. If you contact my office at 703-324-2321, we would be happy to give you information about when something close to you is scheduled.


Mark : Do you ever foresee a time when the Dulles Toll Road could become free and the Dulles Access Road converted to HOT lanes? This could match I-495, I-95, and I-66. The lease of the Access Road to a private company could help pay down the cost of the Silver Line.

Sharon Bulova :

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has authority over the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Access Road. Under the funding agreement for the Dulles Rail Project, a portion of the revenue from the Dulles Toll Road is dedicated to constructing the Silver Line. I am not aware of any discussions about tolling the Dulles Access Road as an alternative or additional revenue stream.

I understand concerns about toll rates and I have been working to manage toll costs on the Toll Road. Under my leadership, Fairfax County led the rail project funding partners in reducing costs for the rail project through value engineering and by seeking federal financing through the TIFIA loan secured in late 2014.


Matt : Are you inquiring of the schools why they felt they needed a 2 hour delay today? Seemed totally uncalled for especially when considering schools systems in the NYC suburbs went to class on time today. I know they messed up earlier this month but now it's getting ridiculous.

Sharon Bulova : You may want to ask your school board member about this decision. Under the Constitution of VA, the authority is vested in the school board to make decisions regarding the operation of the schools.


Marcus S. : Does the county have a strategic plan filled with key metrics, performance and results? I can't seem to find any on the county website like Montgomery and DC provide.

Sharon Bulova : Are you referring to the County's budget, which does include metrics and performance measures? You can go to fairfaxcounty.gov and click on "Office of Management and Budget" to see very detailed info about the effectiveness of programs and services.


Concerned Citizen : Do you feel it is time for the Police Officers under contract with FFX County wear body cameras? Where do you stand on this issue?

Sharon Bulova : I would support body cameras for police officers.


Anonymous User : Any progress on a new Potomac crossing from Virginia to Maryland?

Sharon Bulova : I am aware of some strong support, particularly by local business groups, in creating another crossing. To answer your question, I am not aware of any progress on this. I do believe that ultimately that may be something that the Commonwealth of Virginia pursues in concert with the State of Maryland, much like the Wilson Bridge.


Michele in Reston : I have to call Fairfax County often and it's usually a bad experience. I get dumped in voicemail or no one answers the phone. This is usually not the best way to keep residents happy who just want answers to questions. Can you fix this and ensure people answer the phones during your business hours?

Sharon Bulova : First, I am sorry you had a bad experience. I value the "customer service" the County provides to our residents and am disappointed you don't feel you received good service. 703-FAIRFAX is staffed by our Office of Public Affairs and they are there to answer questions and connect you to the right person or department in the County. I will let our Public Affairs director know of your experience.


Dave in Reston : I read The article on the Washington Post website this morning about SWAT team busting up a poker game. Do you feel this was necessary?

Sharon Bulova : I have communicated with both the Police Chief and our Deputy County Executive for Public Safety regarding the use of the SWAT Team in cases like this.  Deputy County Executive Chief Rohrer has already reached out to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office regarding Tom Jackman’s article to ask several legal questions, related to ones raised in the article, and to ensure our enforcement efforts are in line with both Va. Code and the prosecutors’ priorities.


Sharon Bulova : Thanks for your great questions. I hope you are receiving my Bulova Byline monthly newsletter - my way of keeping you up to date on things that are going on in the County. I have great staff and we enjoy serving you.