City Manager Proposes Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
On February 20, City Manager Mark Jinks presented the Alexandria City Council with a proposed General Fund Operating Budget of $742.3 million and an All Funds Budget of $909.6 million, which represent increases over the current year of 1.9% and 2.2%, respectively. This proposed budget includes $252.8 million in operating funds and debt service for public schools (a 4.2%, or $10.1 million increase over FY 2018 funding) and invests $2.1 billion over 10 years in Alexandria's Capital Improvement Program.
The proposed budget contains no tax rate increases and no major service reductions. It provides funding for 100% of the Superintendent's $223.8 million request for the Alexandria City Public Schools operating budget and the School Board's adopted $474.7 million 10-year capital plan. This represents a $101.7 million increase over the prior capital plan. The budget proposal adds investments for City and School infrastructure, implementation of the City's Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, improvements to the King Street retail corridor, expanded opioid treatment, a new City-paid six-week parental leave policy, and $1.5 million to enhance public safety recruitment and retention capabilities. The proposals also reflect $4.3 million in operating budget reductions across departments.
City Council will hold 10 work sessions throughout the spring to review the proposed budget with City staff; a special budget public hearing on March 12; and a tax rate public hearing on April 14, before adopting the FY 2019 budget on May 3. All sessions are open to the public and will be recorded and posted online. The public may submit comments online, or speak at the public presentations and hearings. The full City Manager Budget Message to City Council, work session schedule, presentations, and related materials are available on the City's Budget webpage.
City Council Adopts Resolution Calling for Common-Sense Gun Laws
On February 27, City Council adopted a resolution calling for elected federal and state representatives to swiftly enact common-sense gun laws, including stronger background checks for all gun buyers; prohibiting the sale of armor-piercing ammunition; bans on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks; funding for public health research on firearms-related issues; mental health support; and 'red flag' laws to aid earlier identification and court-ordered removal of guns determined to pose a danger to the owner or others.
The resolution also calls for local governments to be allowed to enact local gun policies, which Virginia law prohibits cities, counties, and towns from doing. The resolution is broadly consistent with prior actions by City Council seeking reasonable, common-sense gun control measures.
City Council Approves Freedom House Interim Museum Preservation Proposal
On February 13, City Council unanimously approved a proposal for the City to operate the Freedom House Museum, located at 1315 Duke St., on a pilot basis. Freedom House, a National Historic Landmark currently operated by the Northern Virginia Urban League, is the site of the Franklin and Armfield Slave Office, one of the most infamous slave trading companies in the country. About 1 million enslaved men, women and children passed through the doors of this site, which also bears a connection to the story depicted in the film 12 Years a Slave.
Under this agreement, the City would operate the museum, develop its programming, and increase its operating hours, while paying the mortgage and a portion of the operating costs for nine months. The Board of the Northern Virginia Urban League will partner with community and regional stakeholders to implement a fundraising campaign to repay the City funds, bring the building to desired standards, and start building an endowment for the Freedom House facility to ensure that this nationally historic site remains open to the public.
As part of this collaboration, the City and the Northern Virginia Urban League have applied for a museum planning grant for $125,000 from National Trust for Historic Preservation's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Andrew Adkins Redevelopment Update
On January 23, City staff provided an update to City Council about redevelopment of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA)-owned 90-unit Andrew Adkins property. The property is located in the area next to the Braddock Metrorail Station, bounded by West Street, Madison Street, Fayette Street, and Wythe Street.
The presentation also highlighted financial models that were developed to illustrate the project's long-term financial sustainability and the proceeds that ARHA would receive from the redevelopment, which will be used to provide additional affordable housing in Alexandria. The refined concept plan, which is currently being designed, will be shared with the community in the future.
Alexandria 2018 Real Estate Assessments Increase Just 2% Overall
The City has issued assessments for all real property, reflecting the second lowest increase in citywide property values in the last eight years. The overall value of Alexandria's tax base increased just 2.34 percent compared to January 2017, although each individual property's value may have increased, decreased or remained unchanged. Assessment notices, representing fair market values as of January 1, have been mailed to property owners and are available online.
The change in the residential tax base was largely due to appreciation of existing properties, while the commercial tax base was strengthened by the appreciation of multifamily and warehouse properties. The commercial tax base includes multifamily commercial properties (apartments), office buildings, hotels, and shopping centers, with office buildings representing nearly 30 percent of the commercial base value. Compared to January 2017, the commercial tax base is increasing 0.93 percent.
Eco-City Café Slated for March 10
The City of Alexandria will host an Eco-City Café as part of an update of the Eco-City Environmental Action Plan 2030. The Café will take place on Saturday, March 10, at the Dr. Oswald Durant Memorial Center (1605 Cameron St.) from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Eco-City Café will feature small group discussions on five key focus areas: Global Climate Change, Energy and Green Building; Land Use and Open Space; Solid Waste; Water Resources; and Transportation.
As part of the Alexandria community, what environmental priorities would you like to see the City pursue in the next five years? Please complete a brief feedback form and let us know. Your feedback will help the City create a more responsive plan for the future of Alexandria's environment.
Visit alexandriava.gov/EcoCity for more information on the Café and the Environmental Action Plan update.
Keys to the City Homeownership Report
The City of Alexandria Office of Housing recently released its latest publication, Keys to the City: The City of Alexandria's Homeownership Programs from the 1970s to Today. This report provides an overview of the City's long history of providing support to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. City-supported homeownership initiatives range from pre-purchase training and counseling and foreclosure prevention efforts to direct down payment and closing cost assistance and rehab and new construction programs. This publication highlights the policy approaches taken to strengthen and support home purchase assistance for City residents and workers as a means of preserving the City's social, racial and economic diversity.
Information on opportunities for affordable home purchasing is available on the City's Office of Housing webpage.
Nominations Sought for Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award
The Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission and Alexandria Renew Enterprises are seeking nominees for the 10th Annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award. This award recognizes members of the Alexandria community who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and work to sustain local natural resources. The Award was founded in honor of Ellen Pickering, a former City Council member and longstanding advocate for environmental conservation in Alexandria. Nominations must be received by March 29.
The Award will be presented at the 2018 Alexandria Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Lenny Harris Memorial Fields at Braddock Park (1005 Mt. Vernon Ave.). For more information about the Ellen Pickering Awards, including eligibility criteria, nominating requirements, and the selection process, visit alexandriava.gov/EarthDay.
City Receives 2018 Audrey Nelson Community Development Award
The National Community Development Association (NCDA) presented its Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award to the City of Alexandria's Office of Housing, Community Lodgings, Inc. (CLI), and HomeAid of Northern Virginia for their collaboration on completing the substantial renovation of CLI's multi-family building located at 607 Notabene Drive. This is the second award CLI has received in recognition of this successful renovation project. The project, aligned with the City's Housing Master Plan, created one affordable housing unit and preserved six other units for seven underserved families in Alexandria, many of whom have fled domestic violence or were chronically homeless.
The City provided CLI with a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) loan representing almost 30 percent of the project's cost. This project was cited by NCDA as an example of how federal funds administered through local governments, and local home builders can support affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and promote housing affordability. By addressing critical housing needs, this partnership supports vulnerable families in rebuilding their lives and achieving self-sufficiency.
Community Matching Fund Accepting Applications
The City of Alexandria's Community Matching Fund grant program is now accepting applications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Established in 2016, the Fund promotes collaborative partnerships among Alexandria's community organizations by providing matching funds to groups for park and recreation improvement projects. The Fund fosters public-private partnerships and cultivates innovative ways for residents to help improve park and recreation facilities. These partnerships provide opportunities for developing positive relationships between the City and the community.
The City will accept applications through April 16 for funds to be spent from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. A total of $100,000 in City matching funds is expected to be available. At least four applications will be selected to receive dollar-for-dollar matching awards from $5,000 to $25,000. Applicants may count in-kind physical labor toward the match. The City will hold an online information session on Monday, March 5, to review the application process and answer questions.
To learn more, visit the Community Matching Fund website.
Video Caption: In 2017 the Charles Houston Advisory Council applied for a Community Matching Fund grant to renovate the Charles Houston Recreation Center's Teen Center.
Senior Academy Seeks Participants
Senior Services of Alexandria, in partnership with the City, is holding a four-week course for seniors (60+) who reside in the City of Alexandria. Classes will begin on Wednesday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Participants will hear from City officials about programs and services that are available to seniors and how they can become involved and engaged in their communities. Applications are now being accepted through Friday, March 23, at visit seniorservicesalex.org.
Join the Commonwealth's Attorney Community Academy
Have you ever wondered how criminal offenses are prosecuted in the City of Alexandria? On Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney will offer their one-day spring Community Academy to answer those questions through a combination of lectures and discussions. Applications will be accepted through March 26, and space is limited. To apply and get more information, visit alexandriava.gov/Academies.
Register Now for Spring and Summer Fun!
Summer seems far away, but camp season is just around the corner! Registration for the City's 2018 summer camps is open. Register online or in-person at the Lee Center (1108 Jefferson St.). Find the right camp with Summer of Smiles Summer Camps Guide, which contains a variety of camps available to youth ages 2 to 17, including sports, creative arts, computer, nature, performing arts, excursions, STEM, Camp Adventure, Out of School Time (Alexandria residents only) and classic camps.
Registration for all other spring and summer programs, including activities, classes and leagues occurring mid-April through August, will begin on Wednesday, March 14 for Alexandria residents and Friday, March 16 for nonresidents. The Spring and Summer Program Guide is available online and in City facilities beginning Wednesday, February 28. Request a free subscription to receive future issues by mail or call 703.746.5414.
March is Women's History Month
Celebrate Women's History Month, with special events from the Office of Historic Alexandria.
The Lyceum World War I Lecture Series
Visit The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum (201 S. Washington St.), to attend a series of lectures about women's contributions to the World War I efforts. On March 15, Marian Moser Jones will discuss "'Doing Our Bit' (While Having a Bit of Fun): American Nurses in World War I," by Marian Moser Jones; and the topic on March 22 is "Sowing the Seeds of Victory: The Women's Land Army of America in Virginia and Washington DC, 1917-1920," by Anna Kiefer.
All lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. Space is limited and reservations are recommended. Purchase tickets at alexandriava.gov/Shop.
Women's Civil War Day
Fort Ward Museum is presenting Civil War Women's Day on Saturday, March 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Civil War reenactors will interpret the dress, skills, and contributions of women during the Civil War period with ongoing displays and activities. The free program features a quilting demonstration, interpreters portraying the role of women in camp, on the battlefield and engaged in soldier relief efforts, and displays of period clothing and accessories. For more information, call 703.746.4848.
50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 Emergency Service
February 16 marked the 50th anniversary of the 9-1-1 emergency phone service in the United States. To commemorate the anniversary, Public Safety Supervisor Ericka Flournoy and Public Safety Supervisor Linda Garcia participated as part of an honor guard for the telephone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call. This piece of American history was displayed in a ceremony held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on February 15 and 16.
In 1968, AT&T announced its designation of 9-1-1 as a universal emergency number. While 9-1-1 was designed as a local service, the need for faster, more accurate responses for a growing population has resulted in 9-1-1's evolution to conform to emerging technologies and meet the needs of communities around the country. It is now a nationwide telephone number, giving the public fast and easy access to a public safety answering point.
The City reminds the public to sign up for the Smart911 service, which lets residents, businesses and visitors provide information to 9-1-1 dispatchers in advance of emergencies. This free, secure service allows individuals and businesses to create online safety profiles with home, workplace and mobile numbers, along with information that would be valuable to dispatchers and first responders during an emergency.
To learn more about the 9-1-1 in Alexandria, including the Smart911 service, visit alexandriava.gov/911.