Manager's Report - March 30, 2012
Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Process Update
Over the next few weeks, City Council and City staff will continue to work on the City Manager’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2013 General Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program. City Council will hold a work session on the City’s Sanitary Sewer Master Plan on Tuesday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Workroom at City Hall. On Wednesday, April 11, a work session will be held on the Report of the City’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee at 7 p.m., in Sister Cities Room 1101. City Council will finalize the Fiscal Year 2013 Approved Budget and Capital Improvement Program on Monday, May 7. To view the latest documents and information, visit alexandriava.gov/Budget.
Alexandria Experiences Historic Low in Violent Crime
In 2011, Alexandria experienced the lowest level of violent crime since 1966. Incidents of violent crime decreased by 1.6%, or 58 offenses, continuing the trend of historic lows in Alexandria. Homicide, burglary, larceny and aggravated assaults declined in 2011; while rapes increased by one offense, robberies increased by five offenses and auto thefts increased by 92 offenses.
Citywide Ethics Initiative Committee Completes Report
In July 2011, a committee of City employees was asked to review current ethics policies and make recommendations for activities that would address ethics citywide. The committee has completed their report, and many of the recommendations are being implemented by Human Resources. The report focuses on three major areas: 1) An ethics hotline for City employees; 2) a revision of the City's Ethics policy and development of a whistleblower policy; and 3) an online ethics training class for all City employees. A Citywide ethics statement will serve as the City's ethics brand: “We honor the public trust by serving with integrity, civility and impartiality.”
Update on City Employment Policies, Procedures and Background Check Process
The Department of Human Resources has concluded a comprehensive review of its employment procedures and background check practices. The report contains reviews of 1) background check policies in neighboring jurisdictions, 2) current background check processes in each City Department and 3) background check best practices. The Department of Human Resources recommends the continuation of the current Civil Service-based hiring process, with the adoption of a two-level background check system to be used with final candidates selected for hire throughout the City.
Revised Draft Beauregard Small Area Plan Released
On March 27, the Department of Planning and Zoning released a revised draft of the Beauregard Small Area Plan for public review and comment. The revised Plan includes several changes, based upon feedback received from the community on the first draft of the Plan. Major revisions include increasing committed affordable and workforce housing units from 703 to 800 and increasing public and private sector investments in affordable and workforce housing from $87.8 million to $114.1 million. Affordable housing units will be also available to households with lower incomes than originally proposed. In addition, proposed building heights have been reduced, and public open space is proposed to be added near Dora Kelley Nature Park.
Department of Emergency Communications Transitions to New Facility
On March 28, the Department of Emergency Communications (DEC) transitioned to its new, state-of-the-art facility at the new Police Headquarters at 3600 Wheeler Ave. Employees, staff from Verizon, Cassidian, Wireless, Motorola and several City departments reported to the Wheeler Avenue facility at 5 a.m. to begin the transition from the former DEC location at Mill Road. Other employees staffed the Mill Road location until all tasks were successfully completed and all major core functions were operating efficiently. The final transfer of function occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m.
Open Space Master Plan Stakeholders Group
As Council may be aware, the former co-chairs of Alexandria’s Open Space Steering Committee (Judy Noritake and Eric Wagner) have had long-term discussions about working with the City to convene a small group of stakeholders to explore 1) the status of the Open Space Master Plan implementation, and 2) policy questions that have come up since the Plan’s approval in 2003. In their continuing leadership roles on this issue, Noritake and Wagner sent invitations to various stakeholders this week, asking for their participation in a roundtable on April 11. This stakeholder discussion will be followed by a public Open Space Summit (to be scheduled 4 to 6 weeks later). The City will work with the former co-chairs in their continuing leadership roles in this area, and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will provide staff support.
Department of Planning & Zoning Spearheads Architectural Survey Pilot Program
The Department of Planning and Zoning is collaborating with national, state and local agencies to support the development of a groundbreaking pilot program. The department has been working for the last two years with the National Park Service, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Historic Alexandria Foundation, and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) to obtain grant funding to create a digital architectural survey of the Old and Historic Alexandria District. This national pilot project will create a digital survey platform for tablet computers that can be used by teams of trained volunteers to survey over 4,000 parcels in the historic district. Once tested, the software will be available through ESRI’s website to historic preservation organizations throughout the country. This project will incur no additional expense to the City. The Department expects to receive notifications of grant awards from these agencies by the end of this June, with the first phase to begin immediately thereafter. Local survey results will be made publicly available on the City’s GIS website.
Old Town Farmers’ Market Operating Hours to Change
City Council recently approved a change to the operating hours for the Old Town Farmers' Market. Beginning in May, the Farmers' Market will be open later, at 7 a.m., and remain open until 12 p.m. General Services will coordinate with Communications to announce the change to the community.
All Alexandria Reads Kicks Off 2012 Challenge
Now entering its fifth year, “All Alexandria Reads” is an Alexandria Library initiative designed to create shared experiences through reading. The 2012 All Alexandria Reads Challenge began Friday, March 23, when author William Kamkwamba shared the experiences that led him to write The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, this year’s featured title. At the event, a challenge was issued for 7,500 members of the community to read Kamkwamba’s book within the next 75 days, in recognition of the Alexandria Library’s 75th Anniversary as a public library. Copies of the book are available at all library locations or can be downloaded online.
Virginia-American Water to Flush Water Mains
From April 8 through June 29, Virginia-American Water will be flushing the water mains in its distribution system throughout Alexandria. Flushing is an essential part of the system maintenance program that helps flush out mineral deposits and sediment from water mains. When crews are flushing systems adjacent to where customers reside, residents may experience a drop in water pressure or discolored water.
Food Safety Program Service Evaluation
The Alexandria Health Department’s Environmental Health Division (EHD) Food Safety Program recently completed a customer service evaluation. Food facility owners and managers were invited them to rate the program by responding to five closed-ended and three open-ended questions and to send their anonymous responses back by mail. Of the 700 survey forms that were mailed, 173 forms (25%) were returned. More than 98% of respondents reported they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the Food Safety Program services that they had received. The EHD received many constructive suggestions for program improvement from the Health Department’s food safety partners.
Census: Top 4 Sources of New Alexandrians: Fairfax, Arlington, DC and Africa
Newly-released Census data shows that, as would be expected, most people move to Alexandria from nearby jurisdictions such as Fairfax, Arlington, Washington, D.C., and other counties in the region. Even so, the top 10 sources of new Alexandrians also includes Africa at number 4, Asia at number 6, Europe at number 8, and Central America at number 9. The Department of Planning and Zoning has compiled a list of the top 100 sources of new Alexandrians in the past year as well as the top 100 destinations for people moving from Alexandria in the past year. The data are from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a 5% sample of the City’s population. The sample size was 22,509 “in-moves” and 19,022 “out-moves.”
Salute to Women Award Winners Announced
The Alexandria Commission for Women recognized the work of nine women, one man and four teens at the 33rd Annual Salute to Women Awards banquet held March 26, at The Westin Hotel in Alexandria. Proceeds from the event support the Alexandria's Sexual Assault Program.
Commission on Persons with Disabilities Seeks Award Nominations
The Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities is seeking nominations for two annual awards that honor local residents. The John Duty Collins III Outstanding Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Award recognizes an individual who has advocated for persons with disabilities and includes a $500 donation in the recipient’s name to an organization of the recipient’s choice that contributes to the promotion of equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. The Gerry Bertier Scholarship awards up to a $1,000 merit based scholarship to a City of Alexandria resident with a disability or to a student at a school located in the City of Alexandria who seeks post-secondary education. Winners will be recognized at a reception on June 26. Forms must be submitted by April 30 and are available by contacting Mike Hatfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.746.3148, Virginia Relay 711.