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Kids play soccer on a synthetic turf (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

Fairfax County is exploring how private partnerships could bring more sports facilities to the area, but the five-year journey has now been slightly prolonged by an additional step.

The Board of Supervisors passed a measure on Tuesday (May 24) directing Fairfax County Park Authority and Neighborhood and Community Services staff to address racial and social equity issues when evaluating potential projects with input from Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce and her team.

The additional review follows a consultant report released in August 2020 that identified possible Park Authority sites where private businesses could create sports facilities, such as a complex for 16 “rectangular fields” illustrated as soccer fields, another area for 10 baseball fields, an indoor track facility, a natatorium, and more.

The consultants’ report came through the Sports Tourism Task Force that the county created in 2017. One of the group’s several subcommittees involved Alpine-X representatives seeking to build the Fairfax Peak indoor winter slope facility at a landfill in Lorton.

On Tuesday, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who chaired the task force, asked the board to direct the county executive to call for developers to submit public-private partnership proposals as identified in the report.

“Sports tourism facilities are rapidly developing around the East Coast and throughout Virginia,” he said during the meeting. “Vying to meet the demand of this incredibly recession-proof industry, we need to take advantage of our desirable location and extensive sports community by developing the identified sports tourism facilities.”

However, Chairman Jeff McKay modified that motion, clashing with Herrity on how to move forward. McKay said that some areas of the county largely lack these sports sites.

“We have teams, youth leagues throughout this county, that can’t find space today,” McKay said. “Before we…move forward with advancing larger complexes that might be out of reach for some of them, let’s make sure we understand where…inadequacies exist.”

McKay requested that the county create an equity impact assessment on the sports tourism report by the end of 2022.

The board approved consideration of that alternative 9-1, with Herrity dissenting. With Herrity’s original motion dislodged, the board approved the amended board matter 9-0 for a final vote in which Herrity abstained.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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The Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by David Taube)

In an aggressive move, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday (Tuesday) to amp up its affordable housing goals.

Through a motion introduced by Chairman Jeff McKay and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, the board set a new goal of 10,000 affordable housing units by 2034. The previous target, set in 2019, was 5,000 new units in 15 years.

McKay said the county’s previous goal was set in place as a floor, rather than a ceiling, and with the “intent to blow it out of the water.”

“It’s amazing that we’re in a position today just two years after adopting that goal, that we’re able to move the floor to 10,000 units moving forward,” McKay said. “That’s 10,000 individuals and families whose lives will be immeasurably improved, and that’s 10,000 units that we know will be occupied by many, many families over many years.”

Currently, there are 2,200 new affordable units under development in the county.

The county has also renewed efforts to make affordable housing a central planning tenet. For instance, the board approved $33 million in federal loans to fund a 175-unit residential project at Dominion Square West in Tysons.

Despite a renewed effort to boost the county’s affordable housing stock, the move still falls short of providing the 15,000 units that the county’s Affordable Housing Resources Panel predicted the county would need.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he has set a goal of securing 1,000 additional units in the Hunter Mill District specifically by the end of 2027.

“I would welcome any of my colleagues who want to get a little friendly competition, as long as we’re not taking any projects from anyone else’s district,” he said. “This is something that’s going to benefit everyone in the county, but it is up to us to work through these issues, to make sure that the projects get funded, that they get support from the community, and work through the process as they are.”

Springfield District Supervisor Herrity voted against the board matter, expressing discomfort with pursuing a goal without having a a clear financial plan.

“I’m sorry I can’t commit to literally taxing many of our residents out of their houses, which we are doing and have done, by committing to spend untold tens of millions of dollars in rent-controlled housing with undetermined fiscal impacts,” Herrity said, noting that the county is in the middle of a budget cycle. “I’ve been supportive of creative affordable housing solutions, but we don’t have any of those on the table right now.’

McKay called Herrity’s comments an “affront” to the development community, the nonprofit community, county staff, and the community at large.

“This is an economic issue,” McKay countered. “Not doing anything will cost us far more as a community, not to mention all the moral responsibility issues and all the things we talked about here, but not aspiring to this goal will cost the county enormously from an economic standpoint.”

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Fairfax County police cruiser during traffic stop (via FCPD/Facebook)

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity wants police to get paid more, citing concerns over vacancies and burnout.

In an email and during a Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday), Herrity called for the county to allocate $20 million to increase salaries by 10% for Fairfax County Police Department employees with the rank of second lieutenant and below in the upcoming budget.

“While many factors have contributed to this challenge, including national climate, competitive compensation is a key factor that remains unaddressed in Fairfax County,” said Herrity, the lone Republican on the board. “Resignations in our police force in 2021 were more than double than they were in either 2017, 2018 or 2019.”

He said surrounding jurisdictions have invested more in compensation to address recruitment and retention and that many younger FCPD officers are leaving for other departments.

The police department told FFXnow last month that it has 1,353 sworn officers and 156 vacancies, with 25 recruits in the police academy and another group of 27 recruits who were hired.

Presented by County Executive Bryan Hill last month, the county’s nearly $4.8 billion proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 has nearly $80 million in discretionary spending. It includes 4% pay increases for all staff, with some groups, including uniformed responders, getting raises up to 7.8%.

A union representing Fairfax County police argued after the presentation that officers need a 15% increase to improve recruitment and retention, ABC7 reported.

“The compensation increases in the current package are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to stay competitive and attract and retain the best officers,” Herrity said.

Herrity said he’d later present ways to offset the increased compensation’s effect on the budget.

The discretionary spending amount assumes that the county keeps the property tax rate the same.

The board agreed today (Tuesday) to advertise a tax rate of $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. That’s the same as last year, but the county can still lower that rate before the fiscal year begins July 1.

Because of increasing assessments, property bills would increase if the rate stays the same.

“We can decrease it to any amount we decide…at $1.14 or lower than $1.14,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

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