Time is running out for community members to weigh in on Fairfax County’s first Countywide Strategic Plan, which will serve as a template for the county government’s vision and priorities for the next two decades.
A public survey on the strategic plan will close at the end of today (Thursday), though the county plans to conduct a fourth round of community engagement this summer before the document is revised and ultimately adopted in October.
The survey is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. A form for individuals to submit more general feedback can also be found at the bottom of the strategic plan website.
“We view community engagement as a process that is never complete, and strongly encourage you to see the ways the strategies within this plan will positively impact your daily lives,” County Executive Bryan Hill said in a note to the community. “We are counting on you to help us track success, as well as how we can continue to improve — this is not only a government plan, but a way to shape our collective future in a way that benefits us all.”
The effort to develop a single, cohesive plan for the county’s future launched in early 2019 with an initial round of community engagement.
Hill presented what was supposed to be a final version of the document to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 25, 2020, but the county decided to pause work on the initiative when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020.
After the county spent a year revising the document to take into account the pandemic’s impact, Hill delivered a new proposed strategic plan to the board on Feb. 23, alongside his presentation of the county’s advertised Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
The Board of Supervisors was previously scheduled to adopt the plan in conjunction with its mark up of the budget on April 27, but county staff agreed to push the adoption date back to Oct. 5 after “several” supervisors suggested more time was needed for both the board and the public to review the plan and provide input.
“We absolutely think that this makes sense, because while we recognize that the plan was originally designed to be flexible, adaptable, and future-oriented, we also recognize that COVID is our first real test of that design,” Countywide Strategic Plan Coordinator Aimee Brobst said during a budget committee meeting on March 16. “We want to ensure that the board has adequate time to fully focus on the countywide initiative that we, of course, consider to be extremely important.”
The 56-page strategic plan currently being considered categorizes the county’s goals and strategies for achieving those goals into nine priority areas:
- Cultural and recreational opportunities
- Economic opportunity
- Effective and efficient government
- Empowerment and support for residents facing vulnerability
- Health and environment
- Housing and neighborhood livability
- Lifelong education and learning
- Mobility and transportation
- Safety and security
In his note, Hill says that the pandemic has exacerbated existing health and economic disparities in Fairfax County, while posing “significant current and future budget challenges that will require us to focus our limited resources on our top strategic priorities and most urgent community needs.”
“Now more than ever, we must intentionally align existing government and community plans and priorities to respond to the areas of greatest importance to our residents, and strategically focus our resources on these priorities over the next 5, 10, 20 years and beyond,” Hill said.
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