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Falls Church Allocates More COVID Response Funding but Warns of Dire Fiscal Straits Ahead

In a work session discussion yesterday, the Falls Church City Council considered a new distribution of funds in the FY 2021 budget to help cover issues ranging from COVID response to stormwater management.

One of the most immediate concerns presented in the budget discussion was the appropriation of $547,000 from CARES Act funding allocated to the city to help address crises in the city. The lion’s share of the funding, $250,000, was set to be allocated as small business grants, followed by $150,000 in emergency assistance to residents to help cover rental, utility and food assistance.

The City Council also considered funding for six stormwater management projects planned to help prevent some of the flooding issues that have devastated homes in the area over the last few years. There was some concern on the council, however, that without proper consideration the funding could just be flushing money down the drain.

Ross Litkenhous, a Falls Church City Council member, emphasized that he was in favor of dedicating funding to fixing flooding problems, but was concerned that the proposed projects were temporary fixes that would do little to address longer-term problems.

“I refuse to go down a path where we’re only solving for half the problem,” Litkenhous said.

Others on the Council urged to move forward with planning for stormwater management, though with general fund rather than issuance of debt.

Amid the discussion of spending, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly suggested that some funding be set aside in reserve. While the city is facing a fiscal catastrophe, experts warn the region could face difficult years ahead where they might need to tap into a cash reserve.

“Next year’s budget is going to be a big challenge,” Connelly warned.

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