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. On Wednesday, March 28, at Samuel Tucker Elementary School, City Council will hold a work session on employee compensation at 5:30 p.m. and a joint work session with the School Board at 7:30 p.m. 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.
Department of Real Estate Assessments Debuts Online Income & Expense Survey
Each year, the Department of Real Estate Assessments collects Income and Expense information from commercial property owners to assist in making annual fair market value assessments. In the past, the City mailed out paper forms, which were cumbersome to complete, and required owners to return them by mail. This year, the City has created a web-based online filing system that makes it easier for property owners to file their information. This system will also make it even easier for property owners to file in future years.
Del Ray Pizzeria Planning & Zoning Issues
At the City Council public hearing on March 17, Staff from the Department of Planning and Zoning (P&Z) provided a summary of its enforcement work at Del Ray Pizzeria. Staff found a series of violations at the restaurant, including the addition of a significant number of seats. Inspections were performed in coordination with Code Administration and Fire personnel. The applicant has been working with staff to correct each of the violations. As for the increased number of seats, the restaurant filed an application for an amended Special Use Permit (SUP) with parking reduction immediately after being cited. Staff has allowed the additional seating to remain during the review of the SUP application. This decision was based on the facts that 1) removing the seats would cause the business harm; 2) an SUP application has been filed, and 3) each of the other violations was being corrected. P&Z’s enforcement philosophy is to gain compliance and to educate violators, not to penalize businesses or homeowners for infractions. Staff is often faced with difficult enforcement decisions, attempting to balance between support of small businesses on the one hand, and enforcement of the strict letter of the law on the other. In the case of Del Ray Pizzeria, staff believes its decision was correct and that it used its discretion well. The SUP for increased seating and a parking reduction will be heard by the Planning Commission and City Council in April. If Council members wish to discuss the use of discretion further they should contact the City Manager.
Del Ray Trolley Planning
As another step in implementing the City’s adopted 10-year transportation funding plan, the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (TES) has been working with the leadership of the Del Ray community in studying and developing the proposed future Del Ray trolley service. This service is included in the City Manager’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget. As the next stage in the planning process, the City will hold a public meeting at the George Washington Middle School on Wednesday, March 28, at 6 p.m. During the meeting, the City’s and community stakeholders’ route option will be presented to the public, who will have a chance to provide feedback. The proposed service will come to Council later this spring for approval and then would be competitively bid for the private sector to operate. Service is contemplated to likely begin in the fall of 2012. TES is also proposing to undertake a pilot Del Ray trolley service this spring by providing limited service on the “First Thursday” late afternoons and evenings using the spare King Street Trolley.
King Street Light Display Extension Ends March 31
The FY 2012 lighting program began the week before Thanksgiving and was scheduled to end on January 31, 2012, consistent with budget appropriations. It was decided in late January that the program would be extended through March 2012, similar to City Council's decision for FY 2011. Urban Forestry crews will prepare to end the program by Monday, April 2.
City Receives Federal Grant Funds for Department of Community & Human Services Programming
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services approved a one-time award of federal grant funds for Department of Community and Human Services programming. The $28,059 total includes $15,736 to support the cost of training Detox and Residential Program substance abuse counselors in motivational interviewing techniques, and $12,323 to support youth risky behavior prevention programming provided by the School-Age Youth Development Team.
Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority to Present Draft Strategic Plan
Over the past year the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) has been working on a long-term strategic plan. ARHA’s consultants will conduct the first of three community meetings on this draft ARHA strategic plan on Wednesday, March 28, at 6 p.m., at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. The next two community meetings will be held in April.
Low-Income Alexandria Residents Receive Free Dental Care Through Mission of Mercy Event
Area dentists, oral surgeons, dental hygienists, and other oral health professionals provided free dental care for low-income people for the annual Mission of Mercy project, a one-day event at the Northern Virginia Dental Clinic in Springfield. Staff members from the Department of Community and Human Services were instrumental in referring Alexandria residents for care and in assisting with coordination of the event, which was held March 10. WJLA covered the event.
Construction Work at Simpson Dog Park
Demolition of the existing restroom facility at Simpson Park, 426 E. Monroe Ave., was scheduled for March 19, 20 and 21. Because of the activities associated with demolition, the Simpson Dog Park was closed on those days. The dog park reopened March 22, with a temporary new location for the unleashing entrance, for the duration of construction. As part of the construction of Potomac Yard Park, approved by City Council in 2008, Potomac Yard Development LLC will rebuild the Simpson Park’s restroom and storage building.