2019 Legislative Program
Restore Commonwealth Share of Funding for Essential Services
The Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Fairfax are in partnership to offer core services such as education, transportation, public safety, and health and human services programs to our citizens. The Commonwealth’s share of funding for these critical service areas has declined for several years. Consequently, the City has been forced to assume a disproportionate share of funding for these programs while it lacks the breadth of revenue streams available to the state. We ask that the Commonwealth continue to restore sufficient funding to ensure that these services are available to our citizenry.
Provide full funding of the State’s portion of K-12 education costs to rectify the growing imbalance between local funding, and formula changes that weaken this partnership.
- Restoration of full funding for a Cost of Competing Adjustment (COCA) for support positions, a factor in the state funding formula recognizing the competitive salaries required in high cost of living regions to attract and retain the highest quality instructional and support personnel;
- Appropriate recognition in state funding formulas of the increased costs required to serve children with higher level needs, including special education students (+100%), English Language Learners (+30%)and those living in economically disadvantaged households (+10%);
- Realistic and fully-funded Standards of Quality consistent with local staffing costs;
- Recognition of the unfair variation in Local Composite Index (LCI) between the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County; and
- Increased state resources for early childhood education programs.
The City joins the region in opposing State policies that divert K-12 education funding away from local public schools toward non-public options, and funding cuts that disproportionately affect Northern Virginia and result in unfunded mandates.
The City of Fairfax, along with localities throughout the state, continues to provide substantial local funds for transportation each year, and we must continue to work together to ensure that our infrastructure needs are met. A modern, efficient, multimodal transportation system is essential to the Commonwealth, and is intrinsically tied to continued economic development.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
The City supports the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) platform to provide an adequate funding stream to support WMATA. While the 2018 General Assembly helped to facilitate needed governance reforms, funding for WMATA diverted funding available for critical transportation projects in Northern Virginia. The City of Fairfax supports new revenue options to restore funding to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
The City appreciates the ongoing work of the Transit Service Delivery Advisory Committee (TSDAC) to restructure transit funding allocations in the Commonwealth to provide sustainable and flexible funding for long term capital and operating costs.
(NVTC, regional position)
The City of Fairfax supports efforts to increase funding for the Revenue Sharing Program. The City heavily relies on the Revenue Sharing program which leverages state transportation funds against local dollars; by design, the Revenue Sharing program has allowed more projects throughout the Commonwealth to move forward through this leveraging of state funds with local sources. It is imperative that funding levels for this program are not reduced.
Preserving Local Authority in Land Use Decisions
The City opposes any legislation that would reduce the authority of local government in land use issues including planning, zoning, resource protection and neighborhood preservation.
The City of Fairfax supports repeal of the 2017 Proffer Legislation in order to restore proffer authority to local governments to work cooperatively with developers to mitigate development impacts and to accept proffers that would satisfy community concerns. The 2016 General Assembly action sharply limited local proffer authority, undermining the collaborative environment that the City has forged with developers and the community. This legislation placed localities at a significant disadvantage in being able to accommodate growth while remaining responsive to the impacts of growth and its effect on communities. The Code of Virginia 15.2-2303.4 framed the acceptance of cash proffers as unreasonable and an application’s denial is presumed to be due to an official “suggesting” or “requesting” proffers for which the locality can also be sued. While there is an exemption for a “small area plan”, the qualifying conditions may be difficult to achieve. While judicial relief is sought and exemptions clarified, the City of Fairfax recommends repeal and full restoration of its proffer authority. No further restrictions on local land use authority should be considered.
Private Wireless Telecommunications
The City of Fairfax supports retention of local land use authority in implementation of wireless technology. While General Assembly action in 2016, 2017 and 2018 minimized the authority of local government regarding placement of wireless telecommunications facilities, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently imposed significant restrictions upon a locality’s ability to exercise Land Use authority with regard to placement of small cell facilities. While the FCC decision is under appeal, the City asserts that the authority of local government over land use is established law.
Dedication and Construction of New Sidewalks
The City of Fairfax joins Fairfax County in seeking amendment of the Code of Virginia 15.2-2242 (9) to permit localities to require dedication and construction of sidewalks along existing streets that border proposed subdivisions that are included in the Comprehensive Plan in order to expand the pedestrian network of sidewalks, trails and bicycle routes for recreation and transportation.
(Fairfax County, VML priority position)
Preserving Local Taxing Authority
Local taxing authority such as Business Professional License Tax (BPOL) and Machine and Tools Tax (M & T) should be preserved.
Local General Fund dollars should not be diverted to the state treasury.
The Communications Sales and Use Tax (CSUT) was enacted to establish a state-wide tax on communications sales and services. Funding was to be provided to the locality equal to the loss of revenue from preemption of local taxing authority. CSUT revenues should not be diverted to the State General Fund.
Allocation of State Funding Crucial to Local Programs
State Assistance to Local Law Enforcement HB599
Sixty-five per cent of local public safety services are provided by local police departments in Virginia. HB599 strives to equalize state funding between cities, counties and towns with police departments and localities in which the sheriff provides law enforcement. While state funding increased in the 2018-2020 biennium budget, there are still significant shortfalls between state funding for police departments and sheriffs.
(VML priority position)
State Funding for Jails and Courts
Localities should not continue to bear a disproportionate share of jail costs given the State’s mandate to share responsibility for local jail operations.
The court system continues to be underfunded by the Commonwealth placing additional fiscal burdens on localities to provide critical judicial functions. The City joined other Northern Virginia localities in subsidizing the salaries of court clerks; the State should allocate sufficient resources to pay competitive salaries to its employees in this region.
Two vacancies remain on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court due to the failure of the General Assembly to elect the judges whose funding had been approved.
The criminal justice system is also increasingly dealing with individuals with mental health and substance use disorder issues, which places tremendous stress on the system. In accordance with best practices, Fairfax County has increased focus on diversion programs; however, such efforts require significant time and resources from court employees.
The City supports increased state aid to public libraries which provide communities with critical services such as student homework support, research assistance, and public internet access. Approximately 5 million visits are made to Fairfax County public libraries (with which the City contracts) annually, with nearly 12 million items borrowed. State aid to libraries has declined by 25% or $4.7 million since 2001; at a minimum, the state should avoid further reductions in aid. (Updates previous position shared with Fairfax County)
Water Quality Funding
The City of Fairfax requests that the State annually budget adequate funds for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) for matching grants partially funding locality stormwater capital projects. The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) assists localities with implementation of stormwater projects to meet federal and state clean-water requirements such as the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan. Any proposed legislation to streamline implementation should recognize the limitations of local governments with little, or no construction activity to adequately fund and staff a local program. To that end, technical assistance should be made available from DEQ to those localities reviewing the requirements for post construction stormwater runoff as well as provide training to local government.
The City of Fairfax also supports raising the pay differential for the general registrar consistent with the other constitutional officers. While the Code of Virginia stipulates that 100% of the salary for the registrar should be paid by the state, currently the city is assuming 52% of the salary of our registrar.
STEP-VA System Transformation, Excellence and Performance in Virginia
The General Assembly has mandated that each Community Services Board provide services and supports such as same day access to mental health and outpatient primary health care screening, monitoring and follow up. Mandated to begin July 1, 2019, Same Day Access is a critical step toward a more efficient CSB model where waiting lists can be eliminated and individuals can more quickly enter the system of treatment and services which will foster wellness, prevent crises, and decrease the need for more intensive and costly services later. Effective July 1, 2021, CSBs will also be required to provide outpatient mental health and substance abuse services, psychiatric rehabilitation, care coordination, targeted case management and peer supports.
The state funding is not commensurate with the size of the population in Northern Virginia and the training is insufficiently offered and disproportionately funded. City of Fairfax in concert with the Community Services Board seeks sufficient state funding in the 2018-2020 biennial budget to fully implement these required services by the mandated deadlines.
(Fairfax- Falls Church CSB and Region 2 DBHDS)
Medicaid Expansion CSB Revenue Shortfall
The Fairfax Falls Church Community Services Board projects a significant shortfall of state funding resulting from Medicaid expansion. The state estimates that the CSB will be reimbursed through Medicaid for services totaling $1.6 million, however, this calculation fails to account for individuals who lack the capacity, willingness and legal status to apply for and receive Medicaid.
(VML priority position)
Legislative Program Items
The City of Fairfax supports unrestricted early and absentee voting including “no excuse” absentee voting that would permit any registered voter to vote absentee without requiring that the voter attest to a specific reason.
Equal Rights for Women
The City of Fairfax supports efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment which would make Virginia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This constitutional amendment states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Virginia would make history becoming the final state needed to ensure explicit constitutional protection of gender equality one year before the 2020 centennial anniversary of women's right to vote.
(VML program, Commission for Women initiative)
Allow Smoking Ban at Public Playgrounds
The City of Fairfax seeks enabling legislation to ban smoking in public playgrounds with imposition of a fine for those who violate such action. If such a bill were successful in the 2019 General Assembly, the locality would need to conduct public hearings in order to pass a local ordinance.
(previous City legislative position)
Remove Barriers to Distributed Solar
The City of Fairfax supports removal of barriers and creation of stronger market for distributed solar. Reforms include: Lifting the one percent cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered in a utility territory, and allowing local government entities to install solar facilities of up to 5MW on government-owned property and use the electricity for schools or other government-owned buildings located on nearby property even if not contiguous.
(previous VML and City position supported by Environmental Sustainability Committee)
Reduction of single use plastics
The City of Fairfax supports legislation to regulate and decrease distribution, sale or offer of plastic bags which cause many problems in landfills, waterways and in mechanically harvested crops. Such legislation should include authorization for localities to determine appropriate methods to limit the use of plastic bags in their jurisdictions.
(Previous City, VML positions)
The City of Fairfax seeks enabling legislation to regulate the distribution of single use plastic straws and coffee stirrers to curb plastic waste and harm to wildlife.
The City supports legislation that would permit the City to prohibit discrimination in the areas of housing, real estate transactions, employment, public accommodations, credit, and education on the basis of sexual orientation. Governor McAuliffe eliminated sexual orientation as an impediment to employment in state agencies, however, the potential for this discrimination exists in the private sector due to Right to Work laws. Equality Virginia, which promotes rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons will again seek to have this introduced in the 2018 session.
(Previous City position shared by Arlington, Fairfax County, Alexandria)
Access and Use of Taxes Garnered from Internet Sales
The City of Fairfax supports a change in the Sales and Use Tax to enable access to tax revenue from internet sales (based upon the Wayfair decision).
In addition, the City of Fairfax supports decoupling of the gasoline tax, which provides needed transportation funding, from the internet sales tax revenue. Existing law would automatically trigger a reduction in the gasoline tax proceeds that would offset revenue from the internet sales tax.