Friday, March 14, 2014

'Stovepipes' Common and Expensive in Local Transportation Planning

Hey Yupette,

Thanks to County Board Candidate John Vihstadt for raising the issue of  'Stovepipes' during the special County Board election campaign. But 'Stovepipes' aren't just common between Arlington County Government and the Arlington School System. Every jurisdiction (Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax County) gets to do it's own transportation planning inside the Virginia Beltway.

Why spend $300 million to $500 million on a streetcar system that will replace 10 buses on the Pike? Why are both a streetcar system and a bus rapid transit system being designed for Potomac Yards? Why does every jurisdiction get to design it's own multi-modal pedestrian and bicycle system? Why does every jurisdiction have its own local bus system which doesn't connect with other jurisdictions' local bus systems? Why is it difficult to walk from East Falls Church to Falls Church? From Arlington to Alexandria? From Arlington to Skyline? From Arlington to McLean? Why don't transportation planners from Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County share transportation data (traffic counts) with each other?

Transportation is so expensive. And will be even more expensive. We should be eliminating 'Stovepipes' and 'Silos' whenever and wherever possible.

2100 too

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Paygo and Advisory Commissions Budget Work Sessions - County Board to Tax, Borrow, Spend Every Penny Possible.

Hey, Yupette,

Yesterday afternoon and evening the County Board and County Manager held their third and fourth budget work sessions - Paygo and with the various Advisory Commissions.

No surprise about Paygo. The County Board wants to tax, borrow, and spend every penny of County revenue on new and expensive infrastructure projects, ranging from Information Technology to Metrorail.(which will cost the County $31 million in FY 15). Not only will extravagant new public infrastructure be funded but legacy infrastructure that was never maintained is going to be replaced, thanks to real estate assessment increases. County Board shrugged off the costs of constantly upgrading Information Technology infrastructure and the significant increase in the cost of replacing synthetic playing fields and will fund both the installation and replacement of several playing fields during FY 15. After years of not keeping up with street paving requirements the County will increase the street paving appropriation from $7.6 million if FY 14 to $11.3 million in FY 15.

County Board was happy that mid-year revenues are up significantly and county government and the school system will share another $15 million. There were no surprises from the Advisory Commissions last evening. As usual they want more money to support the status quo.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

County to Purchase, Demolish, Affordable Historic Douglas Park Home Adjacent to Park

Hi Yupette,

Another expensive item on this Saturday's County Board Consent Agenda. The County is buying a historic  affordable arts and crafts home on a lot adjacent to Douglas Park for $480,000 and demolishing it to add more space to the park, although Douglas Park is lightly used, apart from the playground. The home, located at 1700 South Quincy Street is between two larger homes and the intent is to purchase more homes adjacent to Douglas Park in the future. Many homes in this area are in need of basic upgrades, but the neighborhood is a primary source of affordable single family homes in South Arlington. I live a quarter mile from the Douglas Park neighborhood and I question whether an affordable home should be demolished to provide open space that would be a vacant lot between two existing homes. There's a huge lack of open space elsewhere in the county which should be addressed first. BTW, former County Board member Chris Zimmerman lives on South 16th Street, across from Douglas Park.

Pamela, Douglas Park

Monday, March 10, 2014

Better Financial Oversight Needed for County's Capital Projects

 Hey Yupette,

Another County Board Meeting, more supplemental appropriations to cover 'unforseen circumstances' and 'changes in scope of work'. This time an extra $61,000 for masonry repairs to the Fairlington Community Center and and extra $152,408.22 for  Potomac Interceptor wastewater improvement project. Stay tuned to see how much Wakefield HS synthetic field replacement is going to cost taxpayers.once the staff report is posted on-line. Also, there are couple of contracts for water main replacements with 20% as contingency cost increases. Agenda Items 10-14 on the March 15th Consent Agenda.

Why bother with bidding capital projects when the actual cost of the completed project is way over the lowest bid? Time for an Inspector General at 2100 Clarendon Blvd..

2100 too