Village News, 5/14/20

Dear West Springfield Neighbor / Friend, 

Thanks to those who contributed to today’s report. We have several graduating from high school or college in very unusual ceremonies. If you feel comfortable, send me your family announcement to include in the next enews.

Membership Meeting – 7:30 PM, tonight (Thursday, 14 May) via Zoom Video Conferencing. If you need the contact information to log into the meeting, please contact me at john.t.cooley@verizon.net. Instructions for set up of the application follows.

How to connect to the Village Zoom meeting. If you are connecting using a phone or tablet:

  1. On your phone, go to the appropriate App Store (Apple or Android).
  2. Search for Zoom.
  3. Download the Zoom App.
  4. On the day of the meeting, open the email on your phone.
  5. Click the link in the email, and the Zoom app will open.
  6. Allow the App to use your video and Internet Audio.
  7. Smile – remember that other folks in the meeting can see and hear you.

If you don’t preinstall the Zoom App, you will get tangled up in having to dial in, download the app, and log in to the meeting.

If you are using a computer:

  1. Open the email.
  2. Click the link.
  3. You will be prompted to click a link if nothing happens.
  4. If prompted and nothing happens, click the link.
    1. If the App is already installed and running, you will be prompted to join the Meeting.
  5. Allow the Zoom App to be installed.
    1. In Edge, click Run and follow the prompts.
    2. In Firefox, click the down arrow in the top right corner and click the .EXE file to run it.
      1. Follow the prompts.
    3. In Chrome, click the EXE file in the bottom left corner of the window, and Follow the prompts.
    4. I Safari, you are on your own.
  6. Once the App is installed, click Join Meeting
  7. Allow the App to use your camera and audio.
  8. Smile – remember that other folks in the meeting can see and hear you.

Yard Sale – Primary and Rain Dates Cancelled. Another casualty of the virus, but we will try again in the fall. County had already cancelled our community cleanup and the Memorial Day Picnic and Pool Party was cancelled in a cooperative decision with the Village West Pool Board of Directors.

Fairfax County FY 2021 Budget – County’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) by a vote of 9 – 1 passed the proposed budget with markups. There were significant changes from the first budget proposal to the revised to the markup and now to the adopted version, but throughout – we were expected to pay more real estate property taxes. To his credit, the Chairman of County’s Board of Supervisors or one from his staff did respond to my inquiry. If you want to see what I wrote – just holler.

      Dear Mr. Cooley - Thank you for your email. As Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, I take my responsibility as steward of Fairfax County’s precious tax dollars very seriously.

      As you know, the budget that is before the Board of Supervisors has no real estate tax increase. While it is true that many Fairfax County homeowners saw an increase in their real estate assessments, there are also those whose property decreased in value. There are also those whose assessment stayed flat. It is important to note that the Board of Supervisors has no say in determining the value of real estate assessments.

      Real estate values are assessed by the Department of Taxation (DTA) though the analysis of sales of homes of comparable value in comparable neighborhoods. It’s based on the real estate market. As a Dillon Rule state, Fairfax County’s taxing authority, through market based assessments, is bestowed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  

      Please know that you have every right to appeal your assessment if you believe it does not accurately reflect the true value of your property. Please see the following link, which provides the information that will guide you through the appeal process.

https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/.../real.../assessment-appeals.

      As far as County spending, it is the Board of Supervisors’ responsibility to balance the ability to provide essential services to County residents with the struggles many are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been particularly challenging. Many line items for the FY21 budget, including most new spending, have also been severely impacted. The largest example is funding for our Fairfax County Schools (FCPS). The FCPS Operating Fund transfer increase will see a reduction from $85.52 to $7.31 million.

      Again, I thank you for your email and I appreciate your engagement during these uncertain times. It certainly serves as a testament to our community’s resolve.

      Sincerely - Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman

I don’t care about your political affiliation, but raising tax revenue during this pandemic is at best questionable. Hang onto your wallet for the next budget cycle knowing that a lot of new spending was only deferred. 

COVID-19 Update: public health restrictions will remain in effect in our region until at least Friday, 29 May. Businesses closed since 24 March must remain closed in the Northern Virginia region. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out service while gyms, movie theaters and hair salons must stay closed. Other businesses, such as grocery stores and banks, may continue operating under the same rules since late March.

Residents should continue to stay at home, and employees should telework when possible. Social gatherings of more than 10 people continue to be banned. The order means Northern Virginia will remain in Phase Zero of the governor’s Forward Virginia plan, while other parts of the state will move into Phase One beginning tomorrow, 15 May. In order to move into Phase 1:

  • A downward trend of positive tests for over 14 days
  • A downward trend of hospitalizations for over 14 days
  • An increased capacity for both testing and contact testing
  • Sufficient hospital beds and ICU capacity
  • A sustained supply of personal protective equipment

Our County Board of Supervisors voted to create a new $25 million grant program, Fairfax RISE, to provide immediate relief assistance to small businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19. The Board hopes to help small businesses and non-profits remain in business and address gaps that may exist in federal funding. At least 30% of the program's funds will be allocated to minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses.

Aldi – thanks to Kathy D’Amato for this report. The Kingstowne Aldi hasn’t opened yet but its landlord is already securing approvals to replace it. Discount German grocer Aldi is currently hiring for its newest store, which will replace part of a 53,000-square-foot Toys R Us that shuttered in 2018 at 6001 Kingstowne Village Parkway. But in just a matter of years - unclear exactly how many - it will all come down. A 324-unit multifamily building is planned to backfill that space after Aldi.

FMI - https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2020/05/12/aldi-is-hiring-for-its-new-kingstowne-store-the.html.

Stuff the Bus – from Jim Womack (Edmonton Court) - ECHO continues the difficult effort to help neighbors who are struggling. Fairfax County and Fastran are helping that effort by holding special Stuff the Bus events at multiple sites to benefit the county’s nonprofit organizations.

On Saturday, 16 May and Tuesday, 19 May, from 10 AM to 3 PM Fastran buses will be parked at locations throughout Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to collect food donations. However, unlike past years, the buses will not be parked in grocery store parking lots, but will be in areas where donors can comply with social distancing.  They will be at the David R. Pinn Community Center, 10225 Zion Drive, Fairfax, and Braddock District Supervisor’s Office, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke.

ECHO can use all kinds of non-perishable canned or boxed foods as well as health and hygiene items, preferably not in giant sizes.  See www.echo-inc.org for an up-to-date list of specific needs.

Congratulations! Jen Pohlsander and her family conducted a successful food drive for ECHO thanks to the generosity of village neighbors. Well done Jen.

Other Collection Points for Donations - Food, hygiene products and household cleaners drive to collect such for families and individuals facing hardship. Collection boxes are being placed at all 8 Fairfax County District Police stations. The items will be picked up and distributed to local food pantries near the stations. We know that food pantries were in desperate need before the virus, but are now even more in need.

Trash Company Woes – thanks to Bob Brien (Loudoun Lane) for this report - before trash hauling companies had problems with fuel costs, costs to use the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill (environmental charges) and availability of crew members, especially CDL drivers. Now it seems that we are putting out too much trash for residential curbside collection. Probably because many now work from home and it is time for spring cleaning. And then add to the mix a certain virus that affects practically all aspects of our lives causing trash collectors to cut into their profit margin. Some of them have asked or will ask for relief from the contract they signed with municipalities to include Fairfax County. The most apparent choice will be to raise our rates, but also to reduce their service by cutting yard debris collection. They have already cut household trash collection to once per week and can’t in good faith stop collecting recyclables – so heads up for another rate increase or termination of yard debris collection. This is just a heads up – nothing set in stone, yet. And, we have heard nothing from Republic, Bates or American. Waste Management and its 1600+ subsidiaries are the ones asking for relief. 

Chuy’s (Tex-Mex) – thanks to Jeanne Jones (Vancouver Road) – Chuy’s is delivering to our Village Wednesday, 27 May 2020! On-line ordering begins Monday, 25 May, phone orders only if on-line issues occur. Ordering deadline is Wednesday, 27 May at NOON. Delivery will be made at Rolling Valley Elementary School Parking Lot 27 May at 5:00 PM. Go to order.chuys.com, select “Chuy’s Springfield” location. Great menu including Family Meal Kits. Margaritas, beer & wine also available for delivery.

Purple Bins Are Back – thanks to Richard & Jule Ann Cheslock (SVD). Collection of glass dropped off at purple, glass-only containers has resumed. The closest purple collection bin is in the parking lot of the Springfield Government Center directly behind the post officer. You can also take your glass to containers at the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex. Last resort is to put it in your trash. Glass should not be put in with your recyclable waste. Also note that free mulch service has also resumed.

Need Help? We have about 30 folks who have volunteered to help older and/or infirmed neighbors. I know that Wendi Dorey is coordinating a lot of help via the FaceBook Group, but you can also send an email or call me (john.t.cooley@veriozon.net, 703/451-7055).

Surely hope you can join our meeting tonight. Stay safe and stay healthy.

John Cooley, CAWSV

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