Funding for two positions to help alleviate two very different crises in Vienna was salvaged by last-minute savings.
Digging around the proverbial sofa to find extra funds for previously unfunded priorities is a time-honored local budget tradition. In Vienna, that took the form of $400,000 recovered from transferring repaving to a cheaper system and changes in the town’s health insurance structure.
In response, Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed $383,000 worth of items that were not funded in the budget that could be financed by the found-funds in the final budget.
The largest item among the unfunded priorities was $144,600 for an economic development manager — a long-discussed idea in Vienna.
Despite more businesses opening than closing in the town, Vienna is still struggling with rampant closures from small businesses. The manager would help assess problems facing local business and develop strategies to help keep businesses in town. Vienna is currently the only locality in Northern Virginia without a person working specifically in an economic development role.
The list of unfunded priorities also includes $50,000 for an economic development and market study.
The other crisis addressed in the list of priorities is handling the town’s massive wave of tree deaths. Over the last few years, every ash tree in Vienna has been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive parasite that’s devastated North America’s ash tree population.
But the town is also dealing with the still-unsolved mystery of what is killing the town’s Norway maples. The death tally reached 30 earlier this year, and Town Arborist Gary Lawrence said the killings were so similar to the Emerald Ash Borer deaths that at first the deaths were mistaken for that infestation.
The list of unfunded priorities includes $69,364 for an assistant arborist and $20,000 to help handle tree maintenance.
A public hearing on the tax rate is planned for April 29 and adoption of the budget is scheduled for May 13.