As July 1 Looms, F.C. Citizens Face Library Hour Cuts, No ‘City Focus’

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23 2010 07:23:44 PM
Permit Delays Will Be Felt in Fairfax County

As July 1 approaches, residents of Falls Church and the rest of Northern Virginia can expect some significant, if not overwhelming, changes in the services their local and state governments will provide.

Severe budget cuts required due to the larger economic recession have caused record layoffs in both Falls Church and Fairfax County, and according to the county’s Mason District supervisor Penny Gross, the clearest evidence of this for the public will be longer waiting times to secure permits and inspections, as well as reduced library hours.

Library hours are also being cut back in Falls Church, according to Barbara Gordon, the City’s Director of Communications.

Gordon, herself, will feel the impact of cuts in the City, as her office will assume the communication duties for the Falls Church City Public Schools, and will direct the Falls Church Cable TV efforts, as well. The combined communication and cable TV office is being shuttered in the schools.

On the other hand, Gordon’s office will be relieved of the responsibility for producing the two-page “City Focus” publication that has appeared weekly in the News-Press every week for the last eight years.

The City Council voted to de-fund the service, leaving the City with no regular form of reaching out to its citizens with a means of communicating information for the first time in memory. Internet-carried information is passive, requiring the initiative of the citizen to access it, and up until now the City has always had a form of the “City Focus” to mail or have distributed through the door-to-door delivery of the News-Press to every City household for as long as the City has been incorporated.

The last edition of the “City Focus” will appear in next week’s News-Press.

Del. Jim Scott told the News-Press that legislation signed into law in Richmond this spring by new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will include three referenda on the ballot in November relating to tax exemptions for veterans and their widows and to insuring that the state’s so-called “rainy day fund” is replenished.

A new state law now allows for persons to carry concealed weapons into bars, as long as they don’t drink.

It is also now possible for courts to sentence to death persons who are accessories to first degree murder, and not just the primary perpetrator.

Local school districts will have the option of certifying charter schools.

Both Falls Church and Fairfax County schools will begin charging fees for students to participate in sports beginning in the fall, and in the county there will also be fees to take Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Supervisor Gross noted that there will be less maintenance in county parks, and a new department set up to handle scheduling the use of athletic fields.

In the City of Falls Church, the operating hours for the community center, the permit counters at City Hall and the Mary Riley Styles Public Library will be reduced.

The community center will close at 10 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and on Friday and Saturday nights it will close at 11 p.m. instead of midnight.

The City Hall permit counter for building and grading permits and land use applications will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The library will be closed on Sundays beginning July 1, and the operating hours of the Local History Room will be reduced, with hours to be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m.

Already in effect in Falls Church is the fact that all solid waste pickups will be on Wednesdays.

Also, next Thursday night, July 1, the new members of the Falls Church City Council will be sworn in, and an election by the seven-member Council of a new mayor and vice-mayor will occur.

In anticipation of the three Council members – Hal Lippman, Dan Maller and Dan Sze – leaving the Council after four years of service, a reception in their honor will be held at 6:15 p.m. this Monday at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse.

On Thursday, a welcoming reception honoring the new City Council members – Johannah Barry, Ira Kaylin and Ron Peppe – will begin at 7 p.m. in the Council chambers at City Hall, prior to the convening for the swearing in and elections at 8 p.m.