Newsletter

The Falls Church City Public Schools School Board unanimously approved a $53.6 million operating budget for the 2022 fiscal year on Tuesday (May 11).

The budget, which includes $43.8 million in revenue from the City of Falls Church, is balanced, provides wage increases for staff, and meets budget guidance from the city, according to school staff.

“The budget is, in my estimation, a celebration,” FCCPS Superintendent Peter Noonan said during the school board meeting.

At this time last year, FCCPS and the school board were “cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars” from the budget and unable to increase staff compensation, Noonan noted.

“As we moved through the budget this year, we’ve been able to accomplish some things that were a long time in coming, and it does represent a turning point in the COVID-19 crisis that we’ve been in,” the superintendent said.

For the third year in a row, the budget meets a directive from Falls Church City to limit any increase in city transfer funds to no more than 2.5% over the current budget and to avoid increasing the real estate tax rate, according to the school division.

Overall, the budget marks a 3% increase from the current budget with support from a $470,000 increase in state funding, thanks to “a substantial jump in sales tax revenue,” FCCPS says.

Federal revenue, primarily for special education, will increase by $32,000.

The budget includes a “well-deserved” step increase for eligible employees, averaging 2.5%, as well as a 1.5% cost of living adjustment for all staff, Noonan said. The budget also accounts for a projected 2.4% increase in health insurance costs.

“We are able to take care of staff and faculty,” he said. “This not only helps our employees but it helps us grow salary scales, which will ultimately impact our ability to continue recruiting staff. We remain competitive in the region, and we have great benefits as well.”

The current fiscal year 2021 budget eliminated salary increases for staff due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

With the new budget, FCCPS will hire a school counselor to lower the ratio of students to counselors in response to new state legislation. New positions have also been added for an additional social worker, an English-Language Arts coordinator, and three more custodial staffers for the newly opened high school, which was recently renamed Meridian High School.

School Board Chair Shannon Litton lauded FCCPS for the completion of the high school campus project.

“We know that that was an incredible feat that it is completed on time and on budget,” Litton said. “I think in the midst of this year it’s gotten overlooked, but it was honestly an incredible thing you’ve accomplished.”

Meanwhile, FCCPS projects enrollment to go up by 101 students from Sept. 30, 2020, bringing the total population up to 2,605 students.

“FY 2021 enrollment was lower than we projected,” a staff presentation said. “However, we are already seeing enrollment recovery and are expecting to have a further increase in enrollment next year.”

The budget also includes funding to continue replacing school-issued electronic devices every four years at the middle and high school levels.

Budget reductions include:

  • Base pay for current employees was adjusted to reflect turnover this year and projected turnover next year, resulting in savings of ~$475,000
  • Discontinued retirement program benefits saved the division nearly $93,000
  • FCCPS saved $100,000 by adjusting its contracts with neighboring jurisdictions for some instructional services to better reflect how much those services are used

Photos via Falls Church City Public Schools 

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a balanced budget for fiscal year 2022 yesterday (Tuesday).

It includes some funding adjustments that the board incorporated into the proposed budget during the board’s markup session last week.

The newly adopted budget supports a 1% pay increase for county employees, a 2% raise for Fairfax County Public Schools employees, and 15% salary supplements for staff in the Office of the Public Defender and state probation and parole officers.

“While there were many constraints on this year’s budget, I am tremendously proud of what this Board was able to accomplish,” Board Chairman Jeff McKay said. “My goal was to look for balance in lowering the tax rate, with the understanding of skyrocketing property assessments, while also supporting our County employees and teachers and furthering our priorities in education, affordable housing, environmental protection, and community resources. I am pleased we were able to achieve that.”

The proposed budget from February did not include pay increases for employees, whose pay was frozen in this year’s budget. The new 1% pay increase comes after Fairfax County employees advocated for salary bumps last month.

“The 1% wage increase and one-time bonus come as a response to union members making it clear that two years of frozen pay for essential county workers was unacceptable,” SEIU Virginia 512 Fairfax Chapter President Tammie Wondong said. “We appreciate the approved change. That being said, the concessions fall short of the agreed-upon pay plan and workers are falling behind.”

The county employees’ union will now focus on its push for Fairfax County to adopt a collective bargaining ordinance. A new state law permitting localities to establish collective bargaining procedures took effect on May 1.

McKay told Tysons Reporter last week that county staff is currently drafting an ordinance that will be discussed at the board’s personnel committee meeting on May 25.

“Meaningful collective bargaining is the only way workers can ensure that the county keeps their promise on our pay plans so that we have the resources to provide the best services to the Fairfax community,” Wondong said.

The increase will be funded using $20 million that County Executive Bryan Hill had recommended setting aside in an “Economic Recovery Reserve.” As the county looks to rebuild, it will instead lean on the $222 million in federal relief funds it expects to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“The redirection of this reserve does not exacerbate budgetary challenges in FY 2023,” the final budget document reads. “With this reserve, funding just shy of $30 million is available to be utilized for employee pay in FY 2022.”

Here are some other highlights:

As proposed in February, the real estate tax rate will decrease from $1.15 per $100 of assessed value to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. Personal property tax rates and stormwater fees will remain the same, at  $4.57 per $100 of assessed value and $0.0325 per $100 of assessed value, respectively.

As considered during the budget markup last week, the refuse disposal fee will decrease from $68 to $66 per ton, but the refuse collection fee will increase from $370 to $400 per household. The rate was reduced from $385 last year because of a reduction in yard waste collection services during the pandemic.

Funding for county government operations and contributions to Metro and Fairfax County Public Schools, or general fund disbursements, totals $4.53 billion. That marks a slight increase from the advertised $4.48 million, and an increase of $55.40 million over the current fiscal year’s disbursements.

More than half of those disbursements (52.6%, or $2.38 billion) support Fairfax County Public Schools. This includes $2.17 billion for operations, $197.12 million for debt service and $13.10 million for school construction.

Fairfax County will create 109 additional positions in FY 2022 to staff new facilities, such as the South County Police Station, a new 61,000-square-foot police station and animal shelter, and the Scotts Run Fire Station. Positions are also being added for the county’s opioid task force and Diversion First initiative.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says the budget marks an important first step toward solving Fairfax’s “longstanding justice crisis,” adding that the 15 new positions his office has been allocated will enable prosecutors to take on more cases.

“As the budget takes effect in July and we fill those, we will be able to expand our caseload to encompass all cases other than minor traffic infractions,” the Commonwealth Attorney’s office said. “We are already scaling up our caseload now and are prioritizing cases that contain an indication of violence between now and July.”

Descano says his office will complement its expanded case load with a “growing use of diversion and alternative sentencing to ensure we are keeping the community safe in a manner that accords with our values.”

Additional staffing alone won’t solve the problem, however. Descano says a multi-year investment is needed to address the “chronic shortcomings that plagued our system,” including a culture of producing as many convictions as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Charts via Fairfax County

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At its meeting tonight (Wednesday), the Fairfax County Park Authority Board will finalize the funding to convert Holladay Field from natural grass to synthetic turf.

The plan for the field was approved by the board in June 2020, but more funds are now needed because of an increase in material prices due to the pandemic. The board has been asked to approve an additional $127,135 to cover a budget shortfall.

According to the board’s meeting agenda, the funding will come from a park bond approved by Fairfax County voters in 2016 — specifically from money that was tagged for a redesign and expansion of Langley Fork Park.

The project carries an overall estimated cost of $1.6 million. About $1.5 million in funds have already been approved, including money from the 2016 park bond, renovation funds for existing Langley Fork Park facilities, and $650,000 contributed by McLean Youth Soccer, which is working with the park authority on the project.

The project will also receive a $20,000 Mastenbrook Matching grant, according to Fairfax County Park Authority Public Information Officer Judy Pedersen.

Located at 1311 Spring Hill Road next to Spring Hill Elementary School, Holladay Field is a 5.1-acre park with a full-size natural-turf athletic field.

“The change [to synthetic turf] is a reflection of the continued growth in field sports such as soccer,” Pedersen said.

The project will help McLean Youth Soccer provide more practice and game-day space for its 3,000-plus players, according to MYS Executive Director Louise Waxler, who says there is “a critical need” for more facilities as the program has grown.

“The conversion of the Holladay field to synthetic turf offers the youth of McLean another quality playing surface requiring far less maintenance and increased accessibility for user groups,” Waxler said.

The Park Authority has contracted with Fieldturf to install the new artificial turf field.

According to the board agenda, the county received an initial proposal from the contractor for $1.48 million on Jan. 18. That was negotiated down to $1.43 million on Feb. 8, but the price was still 16% higher than anticipated based on an engineer’s estimate that it would cost $1.2 million.

County staff reduced the budget shortfall from $292,000 to the $127,135 scheduled to be approved today by eliminating a proposed fence and soccer side goals from the project. McLean Youth Soccer will instead provide movable side goals for the field.

The project timeline has not changed, with construction still set to start in mid-June and expected to take approximately four months.

“Thanks to Supervisor Foust, the Fairfax County Park Authority, and the generous investment by two private donors within McLean Youth Soccer, we are one step closer to meeting our field needs,” Waxler said. “This is not only an investment in our kids, but also an investment to the McLean community as a whole.”

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The Falls Church City Council approved a real estate tax rate reduction on Monday (April 26) in what councilmembers called a testament to the hard work and planning of the city staff — especially amid a pandemic that devastated the national economy.

Overall, the three-and-a-half-cent tax rate decrease comes despite a 2.3% growth in the city’s operating budget, which totals $41.3 million.

“The adopted budget includes a real estate tax of $1.32 for every $100 of assessed value, which is a decrease of $0.035 from the previous year,” the city said in a press release. “The general government operating budget is approved at $41.3 million, which is 2.3 percent growth over the previous year.”

The Falls Church City Public Schools budget was fully funded at $43.9 million — a 2.5% growth over the previous year.

“The last time we even contemplated lowering the tax rate was 2005,” City Councilmember Letty Hardi said. “It’s a pretty remarkable achievement.”

The city says the tax rate decrease was made possible through a combination of eliminating a contingency fund, cutting $340,000 in capital projects, and using $460,000 in funding from the Founder’s Row development as a downpayment on the city’s high school construction debt.

The city said the reasoning behind the capital project cuts is that many are expected to be eligible for federal grant funding starting next year.

It’s not all good news on the bill front, though. The stormwater utility rate is increasing by 2% — an average $5 increase for the average homeowner:

The Council also set a new stormwater utility billing rate of $18.72 per 200 square feet of impervious surface, an increase of 2 percent from the current rate. The increase would result in an approximate $5 increase for the average homeowner. The stormwater utility rate increase is needed to address increased investment in repairs and maintenance of the system. The Stormwater Task Force, convened by City Council in 2019, identified six major flood mitigation projects, which are in final engineering now. A financing plan to pay for these major projects will be finalized in the coming year.

Other items of note in the budget include $100,000 for the Affordable Housing Fund and body-worn cameras for police officers.

“The City Council understands that this has been a difficult year for a lot of people, including our taxpayers,” Mayor David Tarter said. “I am happy that we were able to lower our tax rate and ease the burden on our residents while maintaining our schools and critical City services. We are grateful to our community for helping us get through challenging time.”

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors won’t approve a budget for the next fiscal year until May 4, but the bulk of the work to get to that final document will be done today (Tuesday) when the board meets at 10 a.m. to mark up the proposed budget.

Unveiled during a budget committee meeting on Friday (April 23), Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s proposed adjustments to the advertised fiscal year 2022 budget include a small raise for county employees and support for County Executive Bryan Hill’s recommendation of a one-cent decrease in the real estate tax rate.

The proposed cut would put the tax rate at $1.14 per $100 of assessed value, but rising residential property values mean that county homeowners will still see their tax bills go up by $224 on average.

“We all know that many families are struggling because of the impacts of COVID-19,” McKay said. “While the one-cent decrease isn’t a tax reduction for most families, I chose to support it because it provides some relief to families while still allowing the County sufficient funds, particularly with the stimulus dollars, to continue to stand up the programs that I know are needed in the community.”

The county is also considering lowering its refuse disposal fee from $68 to $66 per ton, but the board has proposed increases in sewer charges and for the refuse collection fee, which would go from $370 to $400 per household.

“It should be noted that this rate was reduced last year from $385 per household based on the inability to provide yard waste collection during the pandemic,” the proposed mark-up summary says.

With Fairfax County expecting a total of $222 million in federal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, McKay has suggested redirecting $20 million that Hill had recommended setting aside as an economic recovery reserve fund to instead give county government employees a 1% pay raise.

The proposed mark-up doubles the increase in transfer funds to Fairfax County Public Schools from $14.1 million to $29.3 million — mainly to cover a 2% pay raise for school employees — and includes salary supplements for state probation and parole officers and support staff in the Public Defender’s Office.

“The Board remains committed to both acknowledging the hard work of our employees and maintaining competitive salaries relative to the market,” McKay said when outlining his mark-up proposal.

The board also plans to amend in its FY 2021 third-quarter review package to include $12.6 million for one-time bonuses for employees, along with funding for Celebrate Fairfax Inc., planning studies, athletic scholarships for at-risk kids, and environmental initiatives, including a green bank and zero-waste policies.

The county government employees’ union SEIU Virginia 512 said in a statement that it was “heartened” to see the board respond to the concerns that workers raised at public hearings on the FY 2022 budget last week about the possibility of having their pay frozen for a second consecutive year.

“However, the basic fact remains: the cost of living continues to rise, while Fairfax County workers continue to fall behind,” SEIU Virginia 512 Fairfax Chapter President Tammie Wondong said. “We urge the Board of Supervisors to continue to work to fund the county’s agreed-to pay plans.”

The union has also been advocating for the Board of Supervisors to adopt an ordinance allowing county employees to engage in collective bargaining.

“A union contract would bring consistency, improve recruitment and retention, and improve services for the community,” Wondong said.

According to McKay’s office, county staff are currently drafting a proposed ordinance, and the board will discuss the issue during its personnel committee meeting on May 25.

While the mark-up package mostly focuses on employee compensation, the Board of Supervisors also hopes to address affordable housing needs by allocating at least an additional half-penny from real estate tax revenues to the county’s affordable housing fund, which currently receives one half-cent, in FY 2022 and FY 2023.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was glad to see that guidance in McKay’s mark-up proposal, even if it would still fall short of the two-cent allocation he campaigned on when running for office in 2019.

“Getting us back to a penny, at least historically, has been on the agenda for a long time,” he said. “I see the federal money as the opportunity, if you will, to pay back a lot of what we weren’t able to do in some previous years, so I do want to see us get to one penny as soon as possible.”

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Morning Notes

Vienna Police Understaffed, Officers Say — The Vienna Police Department has eight vacancies out of its 41-officer staff and has only gotten a 28% retention rate over the past five years, the Vienna Police Association said during town budget hearings last week. The nonprofit attributed the “personnel crisis” to low morale and “a lack of competitive pay and benefits.” [Sun Gazette]

Public Hearings on Dilapidated Houses Scheduled — A $1.1 million property in McLean is among six dilapidated houses that will go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing on June 8. The house at 1045 Bellview Road has evidently been abandoned since 2016 and has been recommended for demolition. [Sun Gazette]

Fox Family Scatters Shoes Around Vienna Yard — “A couple of foxes are up to no good in a small Vienna, Virginia, community where talks of missing shoes had local residents perplexed.” [WTOP]

Falls Church and Pimmit Hills Among Top U.S. Suburbs — “Falls Church and Pimmit Hills were ranked the second and third most livable suburbs in the U.S. in Realtor Magazine’s April edition. The rankings…looked at more than 600 suburban areas in 50 major cities across the country based on eight livability metrics — median household income; household income growth; home prices; home price growth; property tax rate; crime rate; unemployment and clinician to patient ratios.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Wolf Trap Marks National Volunteer Week — “Much like other national parks, Wolf Trap offers plenty of opportunities for volunteering. Yesterday, a group of volunteers gathered around the Filene Center to help with weeding the flower beds and patches of native plants.” [Friends of Wolf Trap National Park/Twitter]

Photo by Bill Johnson

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Fairfax County has been awarded approximately $3.3 million in federal funds to cover the costs of personal protective equipment, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced on Wednesday (April 14).

The funds come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be used to purchase and distribute masks, respirators, eye and face shields, and other PPE necessary to protect county workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a joint news release from the senators’ offices.

The money can also go toward tents, bags, door openers, and tables utilized by workers as part of the county’s pandemic response.

“We’re glad to see these federal dollars go towards managing, controlling, and reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Warner and Kaine said. “As Virginians continue to wear a mask, social distance, and get tested and vaccinated, we remain committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth has the necessary tools to continue to combat this health crisis.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Jeff McKay says that, so far, FEMA has approved $11.5 million in requests for financial assistance from the county, including public assistance reimbursements for PPE, disinfectants, plexiglas, and communications expenses related to public health orders during the pandemic.

“I am appreciative of FEMA’s responsiveness in approving our submissions,” McKay said.

McKay’s office confirmed to Tysons Reporter that Fairfax County will receive $402 million in COVID-19 stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan, the federal relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

About $179.7 million will go to Fairfax County Public Schools, while the remaining $222.5 million will go to the county government. In addition, the Town of Vienna is expected to receive close to $15 million, and $2.8 million will be allocated to the City of Falls Church, according to Inside NoVA.

McKay says Fairfax County is still waiting for “specific guidance” from the Treasury Department for how to utilize its stimulus money, but the county hopes to continue initiatives like the Fairfax RISE grant program that were supported by previous relief funds.

“We expect the funds to be more flexible than the CARES Act funding so we will need some time to see what our options are,” McKay said. “Regardless, we are excited to have the support of the federal government and believe it will be crucial to continue to lift up our community.”

According to a March 12 memo from County Executive Bryan Hill, Fairfax County had finished allocating more than $200 million in the Coronavirus Relief Fund that it created with money from the CARES Act. The funds went to support public health programs, county government operations, and virtual learning at FCPS and to provide assistance for residents and businesses.

Hill also noted that the county will also receive additional funds from the American Rescue Plan for its emergency rental assistance program, though the memo doesn’t specify the amount.

Kaine and Warner announced on April 8 that Virginia will get more than $96 million, including $7.8 million for Fairfax County, to support access to safe and affordable housing for people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their homes.

The Board of Supervisors will formally accept its American Rescue Plan stimulus funds on April 27 when it approves the county’s fiscal year 2021 third-quarter review, according to Hill.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Fairfax County’s government workers union urged the Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tuesday) to adopt a fiscal year 2022 budget that includes increased compensation for employees, whose year-long pay freeze would be prolonged if the county’s proposed budget takes effect.

The testimony came during the first of three public hearings on the advertised FY 2022 budget that have been scheduled for this week. There will also be hearings at 3 p.m. today and tomorrow (Thursday).

Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, which represents social workers, librarians, maintenance staff, and other general county government employees, says that its top priorities for the new budget are ending the pay freeze and establishing rules for collective bargaining.

“For over one year, we have worked tirelessly to keep the community running,” SEIU Virginia 512 President Tammie Wondong said. “We have done everything we can to keep Fairfax families healthy and safe, even when we have not been healthy and safe ourselves. Today, we are asking that you recognize and value county employees in this year’s budget.”

Wondong acknowledged that the county has made an effort to support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding leave options and providing hazard pay. The board is also considering offering one-time bonuses in the FY 2021 budget as part of its third-quarter review, which will be approved on April 27.

However, the union argues that that remains insufficient compensation for employees who are essential to maintaining county services but often struggle with the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and other needs.

Fairfax County Health Department employee Jenny Berkman-Parker said in a video that played during the public hearing that the most recent evidence of the ongoing pay freeze’s impact on her family came in the form of an email from her son’s university, which announced that it will raise tuition costs by 5% next year.

“I was trying to be understanding the first year. The second year is definitely more stressful,” she said. “…Now that we’re having pay freezes for two years in a row and we’ve had pay freezes in the past, my income is no longer keeping up with the cost of living.”

Fairfax County Public Schools employees would also have their pay frozen again under the advertised FY 2022 budget. The Fairfax County School Board requested a 3% pay raise for all employees, but that was not incorporated into the county’s proposal, which increases funding for the school system by just $14.1 million.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, which represents all non-administrative FCPS staff, said in a press release issued on Monday (April 12) that 60% of respondents to a poll it conducted reported living paycheck to paycheck. Three out of four respondents said they have considered leaving for another school district due to the pay freeze.

“These statistics should not be the case in one of the wealthiest districts in the Commonwealth,” FCFT President Tina Williams said. “…Our district and county must do better.”

County Executive Bryan Hill’s proposed budget largely limits spending in response to the ongoing demands of the pandemic and uncertainty about the county’s future recovery.

When he presented his proposal on Feb. 23, Hill told the Board of Supervisors that it would cost more than $55 million to fund the county’s employee compensation program, including almost $30 million for a 2% market rate adjustment. Read More

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Records Third Pedestrian Death of 2021 — Police reported on Friday (April 9) that Falls Church resident Ramakant Bhusal, 36, was struck by a car while crossing Arlington Boulevard near the Graham Road intersection. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors for the driver. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Construction to Begin on Marco Polo Development — Starting today (April 12), the sidewalk in front of 245 Maple Avenue W. in Vienna will be closed for approximately five months “to allow for safety and proper right-of-way during construction.” The mixed-use Vienna Market development was approved to take over the former Marco Polo site in 2019. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Inova Seeks Volunteers for COVID-19 Vaccine Site — “Fairfax County has received a request to recruit volunteers to help provide assistance to the Inova Stonebridge COVID-19 Vaccination Center in Alexandria, which provides COVID-19 vaccines predominately for individuals who reside and/or work in Fairfax County.” [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Holds Virtual Budget Public Hearings This Week — Community members can weigh in on the county’s proposed FY 2022 budget and capital improvement program on Tuesday through Thursday (April 13-15). The Town of Vienna and City of Falls Church are also holding budget meetings this week. [Fairfax County Government]

Ramadan Begins Today — Agora Tysons (7911 Westpark Dr.) is one of several restaurants in the D.C. area offering halal-friendly options for carry-out and delivery in lieu of extended holiday hours during the Muslim holy month. [Dine After Dark]

Mosaic District Displays COVID-19 PSA — “Many thanks to @mosaicdistrict for showing our #COVID19 Spanish language PSA on the big screen reminding folks on the importance of wearing a mask, washing your hands & employing physical distancing.” [Northern Virginia Regional Commission/Twitter]

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Metro will maintain its current rail and bus service levels under a proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board of directors’ finance committee approved yesterday (Thursday).

Since February, Metrorail has been operating at 80% of its service levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted a nearly 90% drop in ridership. Metrobus has been operating at 85% of its pre-pandemic service levels after seeing a less pronounced decrease in ridership.

The $4.7 billion operating and capital budget proposed for FY 2022 is being supported by $722.9 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding, including $193.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that Congress enacted in March.

Those funds have enabled WMATA to avoid making the significant service and personnel cuts that had been on the table even after the passage of the second coronavirus relief bill in December. Among the possible cuts was the closure of 19 Metro stations, including the McLean and Greensboro stations.

Tysons Partnership, the nonprofit group that has been overseeing the implementation of Fairfax County’s vision for Tysons, welcomed the news that those potential cuts have been averted.

“After a very uncertain time, we are pleased the federal government provided ample funding for WMATA to cover operating costs for the near future and that Tysons Metro stations will remain open,” Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner said. “Now, we and the region need to focus efforts on returning to riding Metro as economic recovery efforts get underway and more retail and hospitality businesses return to normal operations.”

However, the proposed budget will delay funding for service on the long-anticipated second phase of the Silver Line, which expands the transit system from Reston into Loudoun County.

Previously scheduled to open this fall, Silver Line Phase 2 will now begin operations in January 2022 at the earliest as the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority works to resolve ongoing construction issues. MWAA said in March that it will be ready to hand over the project to Metro by Labor Day.

“We are preparing to welcome back customers as part of a return to normalcy, and welcome new customers who have long awaited the convenience of the Silver Line and new stations serving their communities and workplaces,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “I am especially looking forward to beginning rail service to Dulles Airport as people resume travel to and from the nation’s capital as one of the great destinations in this country.”

Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget also includes the transfer of five bus routes to Fairfax Connector, which will assume operations of the routes in July in conjunction with a host of other service changes concentrated around Tysons, McLean, and Falls Church.

WMATA says it received more than 22,400 responses during the public comment period on the FY 2022 budget, which lasted from Feb. 20 to March 16. That is the most comments the transit agency has gotten on a budget proposal in the past 10 years.

WMATA’s board of directors is scheduled to give final approval to the proposed FY 2022 budget on April 22. The fiscal year will begin on July 1 and last until June 30, 2022.

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