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Faith Baptist Church in Vienna (via Google Maps)

The Vienna Town Council unanimously voted Monday (Feb. 7) to borrow $12 million to fund capital projects, including improvements of roadways, sidewalks, and the recently acquired Faith Baptist Church building.

Of the $12 million in bond funding, $6.7 million will be repaid with meals taxes, $3.9 million repaid with water and sewer fees and $1.2 million repaid by the general fund, Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the council at its Monday meeting.

About 44% of the money will go toward construction improvements to streets and sidewalks, and 33% for water and sewer projects. The remainder of the costs are for smaller facility improvements, like parks and recreation projects, public-use vehicles, and bond issuance costs.

“I do want to say for the record that the town does not undertake borrowing $12 million lightly,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said. “We have a stellar financial record and that money is cheap, and we’re using these funds for capital improvements that are much needed, so this is actually a very fiscally smart and responsible thing to do.”

Councilmember Ray Brill responded that “money is never cheap” and “there is a cost to the money.”

Serfass told Tysons Reporter that this morning (Thursday), credit rating agencies Moody’s and S&P both reaffirmed their AAA rating of the town, the highest possible rating, because of the town’s likelihood to pay back the debt.

Projects from the $26.5 million 2022 Capital Improvement Plan that will get some of the bond funding include:

  • Glen Avenue sidewalks ($1.9 million)
  • Asphalt and mill overlay ($1.65 million)
  • Glyndon Road SE improvements from Locust Street to Valley Drive ($725,000)
  • The Freeman Store and Museum roof replacement ($95,000)
  • Glyndon Park playground and parking lot replacement ($300,000 each)
  • Faith Baptist Church property improvements ($300,000)

Many of the projects have additional funding allocated in the CIP from the town’s American Rescue Plan Act money or from the Robinson Trust Sidewalk Initiative.

“A good use of the American Rescue Plan Act money is capital projects, one-time projects that don’t require additional funding going forward, so not a new program,” Serfass said at the town council’s Jan. 24 meeting when it approved the CIP. “That really is a benefit to us as a town and is going to allow us to take a little pressure off our debt capacity and off our water and sewer rates.”

Bond funding, including premiums, accounted for $37.6 million of the town’s 2020 CIP, which included about $15 million for the police station renovation, and $9.2 million of the 2018 CIP.

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Dunn Loring Center (courtesy Fairfax Public Schools)

Planning for a new elementary school in Dunn Loring could begin as soon as the second half of 2022, Fairfax County Public Schools projects in its proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2023-2024.

As approved by the Fairfax County School Board back in January, the new school will take over the Dunn Loring Administrative Center at 2334 Gallows Road, which started as an elementary school before being repurposed in 1978. The building is now being used for some special education and parent programs.

The project’s estimated $36.7 million budget is already fully funded by money from 2017 and 2019 school bonds that were originally destined for a new school in Oakton High School area.

Funding for the new school was welcomed by parents at Shrevewood Elementary School, which was at 118% capacity in the 2019-2020 school year. The CIP says its capacity dropped to 99% this year after an enrollment decline and minor facility modifications.

However, the boundaries for the Dunn Loring school have yet to be determined beyond it being “intended to relieve overcrowding in the Dunn Loring/Falls Church/Tysons area,” as stated in the CIP.

“School assignments for the repurposed Dunn Loring Elementary School will be determined as part of any boundary study for the school,” FCPS said in a statement. “The boundary study is currently estimated to begin toward the end of construction in 2026.”

The CIP indicates that planning for Dunn Loring Elementary will begin in fiscal year 2023, which starts on July 1. Permitting could start in FY 2024, followed by construction in FY 2025. The project is expected to be complete in FY 2027.

Other Tysons-area projects addressed by the proposed CIP include:

  • Madison High School: a 35,000 square-foot addition, currently under construction and expected to finish by the end of 2022 ($18 million)
  • Louise Archer Elementary School: renovation adding over 50,000 square feet to the building. The voter-approved 2021 school bond included funds for construction, which is expected to start this fiscal year and finish in FY 2024. ($39.9 million)
  • Cooper Middle School: renovation expanding the building by approximately 65,000 square feet. Construction is underway and set to finish in summer 2023. ($54.4 million)
  • Falls Church High School: approximately 126,000 square-foot renovation, in the permitting process with an anticipated construction finish in FY 2026 ($136 million)

FCPS staff will present the proposed CIP to the school board tonight (Thursday). The board will hold a public hearing on Jan. 4 and a work session on Jan. 11, with a final vote scheduled for Feb. 10.

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