In general, staff prepared a proposed FY 2017
budget after consideration of guidance and priorities provided by the City
Manager for the Livable, Green and Prospering City Focus Area. For FY 2017, the
City Manager’s priorities most aligned with the Livable focus area included
affordable housing, traffic/parking management, increasing General Fund revenue
and IT investment. Additionally, departmental budget proposals focused on
continued commitment to core services. Staff reviewed this process and the
priorities in fall and early-spring coordination meetings with the chairs and
vice-chairs of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) staffed
boards and commissions.
EPC Question #1: To what extent has staff
considered the creation of a sustainability coordinator position, and why has
staff decided not to include a new FTE for such a position in any of the
scenarios included in its proposed FY 2017 budget?
Answer: The EPC letter to City Council dated November 15, 2015 was
considered by staff from multiple departments within the Livable, Green and
Prospering City Focus Area. Staff also understands that the proposed
sustainability coordinator, like other potential positions that were considered
and not proposed, are worthy proposals that support important City
initiatives. However, the proposed
position was not included in the FY 2017 City Manager’s proposed budget because
the City has committed extensive resources and significant funding on three
major environmental initiatives: stormwater programs, development of a
long-term control plan for the City’s combined sewer system, and finally,
completion of the Oronoco outfall dredge and cap project. Staff also believes
that its focus on the identified priorities advance significant goals within
the Environmental Action Plan and align with City Manager/City Council
EPC Question #2: Does City staff have sufficient resources in the Manager’s
FY 2017 budget request to complete a comprehensive strategic review of the
City’s resource recovery programs and policies in time to inform the FY 2018
Answer: The T&ES
departmental work plan includes a multi-year, staff-driven effort to develop a
strategic plan for the City’s resource recovery programs. This plan will
support some short-term policy proposals (for example, after-action reports on
the Food Waste Composting Pilot and continued assessment of the Farmers Market
composting program) for consideration by City Council in the FY 2018 budget
process. However, the longer term effort will be a phased assessment of the
City’s resource recovery programs and will ultimately lead to updates to the
City’s Solid Waste Management Plan, which will be submitted to the Department
of Environmental Quality in 2019. Staff anticipates continuing its close
working relationship with the EPC as we undergo this multi-year effort. A
long-term staff/EPC partnership is essential to successful completion of this
EPC Question #3: What priorities would need to
shift to free up staff resources sufficiently to move the update of the
Environmental Action Plan (EAP) back to FY 2017?
Answer: Updating the EAP is a significant inter-departmental
effort that will require focused resources from multiple departments and could
take over a year to complete. A Draft FY 2017 Interdepartmental Work Plan was
presented to City Council at its Legislative Meeting on February 23, 2016.
Plans and initiatives currently proposed for FY 2017 are shown on that document
and include (but are not limited to) Old Town North Small Area Plan; North
Potomac Yard Update; combined sewer system plan; stormwater utility; as well as
related parking, facility and transportation initiatives. The City Manager’s
proposed FY 2017 budget also includes funding for an Eisenhower West
Infrastructure Plan which will be coordinated with a newly-formed Ad Hoc
Eisenhower West/Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group. Finally, staff
estimates the EAP update will require consultant resources of approximately
Question: What would T&ES do with a full-time position (FTE) to
help further our ability to leverage more dollars for our Eco City Plan?
The full-time sustainability coordinator position would enable better coordination of sustainability efforts at all City departments, better tracking of key performance indicators to measure progress of the Eco-City program, and allow for better priority settings and faster implementation of the Environmental Action Plan.
This position would leverage City resources by: 1) integrating sustainability principles into all CIP projects and generating revenue through pursuing federal and state grants that could help reduce CIP project costs; 2) participating in regional sustainability projects to demonstrate new technologies, thus reducing costs and risks to Alexandria; 3) promoting successful technologies within Alexandria that have been demonstrated at other jurisdictions, resulting in faster implementation of new technologies while reducing development costs; 4) promoting best green practices to reduce costs to homeowners and at the same time, ecological impacts to the environment; 5) assisting in incorporating sustainability goals and practices into Small Area Plans, such as the Eco-District concept for Old Town North and the Eisenhower West SAPs, and ensuring that City’s sustainability goals are largely paid for by the developers; and 6) in the short term, working with City departments and the Environmental Policy Commission to accelerate the updating of the City’s Green Building Policy as well as the Environmental Action Plan.
This position requires technical knowledge
across many fields (e.g., renewable energy, energy efficiency, air and water
quality, green building, etc.) combined with excellent communication and
project management skills. Given the high technical knowledge and
experience of such a position, staff recommends that it be at the Principal
Planner (GS24) level. The estimated salary plus benefits for this level is
Question: What is the potential of utilizing one of the Stormwater positions (potentially part-time role) as the Sustainability Coordinator?
Following Council’s recommendation to pursue a Stormwater Utility to fund costly stormwater infrastructure mandates, the City’s proposed FY 2017 budget includes 3 FTEs. These positions are needed to meet the recommended schedule to develop critical parts of the utility such as the rate, credit policy and billing strategy as part of the resolution brought to Council in fall of this year. They will then need to develop the customer database, appeals process and final rate to be included in the recommendation for adoption to go before Council in spring of 2017. It will be crucial for these positions to complete these tasks to meet these interim milestones and finalize this work leading to full implementation and billing by FY 2018. It has been suggested that one of these positions focus part time on City-wide sustainability efforts. Sharing responsibilities at this critical time may jeopardize the schedule for implementation. However, once the Stormwater Utility is up and running, there may be an opportunity for one of these positions to dedicate a portion of the work day on issues suited to a Sustainability Coordinator in order to further the City’s ongoing efforts to champion the vision and actions of the Eco-City Alexandria initiative.