"I hope you are enjoying your summer!
Last month marked the halfway point in my two-year term as mayor of the City of Fairfax. I would like to take the opportunity to reflect upon our successes over the past year, and outline some of the remaining challenges the City faces in the year ahead.
As a new mayor, my first goal was to dramatically improve access to information about ongoing City initiatives. I believe that strong communication is key, which I’ve tried to advance through public outreach meetings, City Council meetings, e-mails, Twitter and Facebook.
I’m also pleased to announce that, in a few short weeks, the City website will undergo its first substantive re-launch since its inception over a decade ago.
I also believe it’s important to simplify our priorities and goals for the coming year. We have made some very strategic decisions, notably, the decision to partner with Fairfax County Water Authority, and to begin a comprehensive overhaul of our zoning ordinance. However, our most important task is to continue providing the high level of services our community has come to expect every single day.
I want the City of Fairfax to continue to be among the best run and managed cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our City Manager, Bob Sisson, has served the City well for more than two decades, making him the longest-serving chief administrative officer of any Northern Virginia jurisdiction. I feel very fortunate to have his continuing service as our City Manager, and the benefit of our skilled and diverse City staff.
Over the past 12 months, as part of my outreach as mayor, I have twice met with the City Manager’s leadership team. I consider each employee to be part of the Fairfax family; our core mission is to serve the public. As mayor, I will continue to urge our City Manager to focus on retaining good employees and building upon the culture of community – a core value of the City of Fairfax.
I approach the job as mayor as a partnership – a partnership between me, members of the City Council, the staff, and most importantly, the community. Given the important work before us, we must continue to find ways to work together to solve problems. As mayor, it will be my job to ensure a governance process that promotes openness and transparency by all City staff and elected and appointed officials in your local government.
A few other highlights:
The adopted fiscal year 2014 budget continues the progress we have made toward becoming the community of choice in Northern Virginia. Our past policy of fiscal restraint has resulted in an operating budget that is largely flat, with the exception for increased funding requirements for our City’s retirement system. Our Capital Improvement Program (CIP) increased by near record levels, largely because the City Council believed we had to make up for lost ground over the past several years. This includes nearly doubling of our street repaving program and investments in our parks, trails and storm water management programs.
One of the other best measures of the City’s solvency and sound fiscal management is our bond rating. Under Mayor Lederer’s leadership, the City achieved AAA status and I’m pleased to announce this status was reaffirmed in my first year as mayor.
On the development front, the City Council unanimously approved the Layton Hall Apartments’ redevelopment. One of the key aspects to approval was to promote affordability within the development. The City Council has also created a task force to address housing affordability and its recommendations will be presented to the City Council this fall.
Our top long-range planning priority remains the Fairfax Boulevard redevelopment – the economic engine of our City. Relying on significant public input, our Community Development and Planning staff has been working diligently on redevelopment of the three major ‘nodes’ in the City – Fairfax Circle, Kamp Washington, and the Route 123/50 intersection.
One of the best aspects of being mayor is welcoming new businesses to the City. In the past year, I’ve cut dozens of ribbons including the new headquarters for Main Street Bank, Sundog Productions, Rita’s, Fairfax Spice Merchants, Comic Book Store, Cox Communications and Verizon Wireless. I’m leaving many out, but I want to encourage each and every resident to “shop” Fairfax – much of every tax dollar spent in the City is returned to the city from Richmond.
Finally, I have convened a working group on diversity inclusion with a primary focus on getting more minorities engaged on our civic boards and commissions. I've always felt our boards and commissions should better reflect our community – and encouraging minority citizen participation will remain a priority so long as I remain mayor.
I want to thank you for the enormous privilege of serving as your mayor. I have an open-door policy at City Hall and encourage you to stop by, write or call when you have any matter you wish to discuss.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!"
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