ANALYSIS: Council Poised to Push Back on Schools’ Budget Request

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
April 25, 2016

For many years, the song remained the same: Residents concerned about Falls Church City’s property tax rate complained that the City Council wasn’t pushing back enough against school funding requests, and instead gave school officials whatever they wanted.

But that appears poised to change tonight, when the Council is expected to approve a budget that gives the schools $912,000 less than they have asked for.

They aren’t doing that for fun, of course; they are doing it because a majority of the Council has decided they want to keep the property tax rate flat with last year and not raise it by any amount, not even the 2.5 cents proposed in City Manager Wyatt Shields’ initial budget proposal, which is required by law to include the schools’ request without any reductions.

The Council’s stiffer spine seems to have caught school officials by surprise. They are lamenting the impact they say it will have on the schools, and school advocates, including City Councilor Marybeth Connelly and School Board Chair Justin Castillo, have been making calls, sending out emails,... [Read more...]


Fundraiser for Annual GMHS Graduation Party Set for Saturday

Special to the Falls Church Times
April 20, 2016

For the 27th year, the George Mason High School All Night Grad Celebration is being planned for this year’s seniors. To help defray the cost, organizers are holding a fundraiser Saturday from 3 to 6 pm at Clare & Don’s Beach Shack on North Washington Street.

Called the Byrd Feeder after Mason Principal Ty Byrd, the fundraiser will feature a silent auction hosted by Mr. Byrd. It’s an event for the entire GMHS parent community, featuring auction items donated by GMHS families, local organizations, and other businesses. The Byrd Feeder netted more than $6,000 last year.

The all-night party, known as the ANGC, had its start 27 years ago, when GMHS parents, concerned about the risks of alcohol, drugs, and unsafe driving at traditional “grad night” celebrations, decided to offer new graduates a fun, safe alternative.

Now a cherished tradition with participation rates averaging more than 90 percent over the last several years, ANGC boasts a certain mystique that keeps the kids engaged and eager to sign up year after year. Outgoing seniors share stories of the activities... [Read more...]


City Manager Proposes Budget With Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Increases

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
March 15, 2016

City Manager Wyatt Shields on Monday night proposed a Fiscal Year 2017 budget of $87 million, an increase of 5.1 percent over the previous fiscal year. The proposed budget provides for a 1.2 percent ($438,421) increase in general government operating expenditures and a 5.4 percent ($2,065,130) increase in local funding for public schools, as requested by the School Board and required by City ordinance.

Three tax increases are proposed by the City Manager to meet needs and requirements set forth in the budget. A 2.5 cent increase in the real estate tax – from $1.315 to $1.34 per $100 of assessed value – is proposed to meet the school funding request. Taxes for the median home value of $647,800 would increase $163.

Mr. Shields also proposed a 16 cent increase on the personal property tax – from $4.84 to $5 per $100 of assessed value – and a 10 cent increase on the cigarette tax – from 75 cents to 85 cents per pack – to help offset a $627,112 increase in Metro funding required of local governments. The increase in the personal property tax would mean an additional... [Read more...]


Dream Season Ends in Semis for Mason Boys’ Hoops

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
March 11, 2016

The George Mason High School Boys Basketball team was living the dream. Winners of its first 29 games this season, including a last second, 74-72, thriller earlier this week, they were poised for an unbelievable 30th straight victory against zero losses as they headed to Richmond.

But their hopes for a state championship were dashed in the semifinal round of the playoffs by the Greensville County Eagles, who came from behind in overtime to end Mason’s stunning season Friday, 66-63.

Had they won, Mason would have played for all the marbles Saturday afternoon at 4 pm. Instead, they’ll head back north while Greensville County takes the place they wanted. Greensville is a rural county near the North Carolina border.

It wasn’t like they didn’t give it their best shot. Trailing 30-23 at the half, the Mason boys battled back and took a 55-51 lead in the fourth quarter, only to see Greensville tie it up shortly thereafter. Greensville then scored again to take a 57-55 lead late, but Mason’s Elliot Mercado, a senior and the team’s second leading... [Read more...]

Around Town

SUNDAY, 4/19: Citizens for a Better City Annual Meeting

All are welcome to join Citizens for a Better City (CBC) on Sunday, April 19th for their Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception at Falls Church’s Hilton Garden Inn, 706 West Broad Street.

 

Reception begins at 5:00 PM with drinks & light hors d’oeuvres followed by our meeting at 6:00 PM.

 

Cocktails including 2015 dues $30 per person

 

You may pay at the door or in advance. Make your check out to Citizens for a Better City and mail to CBC, PO BOX 6080, Falls Church, VA 22042

 

Parking... [Read more...]

April 9, 2015 | Leave a Comment









Mason Boosters Annual Mulch Sale Underway

March 10, 2016

It certainly has been spring-like the last several days, and that reminds us that the annual George Mason High School Athletic Boosters Association spring mulch sale is underway.

For the 23rd year, student athletes will donate their time to load and deliver mulch to homes throughout Falls Church. This is the Athletic Boosters’ largest fundraiser, and proceeds are used to provide student scholarships, end-of-season and Hall of Fame banquets, banners that hang in the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School gym, as well as big ticket items, including the baseball/softball field lights and equipment purchases.

The high quality, shredded hard-bark mulch comes in three-cubic-foot bags, which sell for $5.00 each. Those interested can purchase mulch online at the MasonAthletics.org Fan Shop. Order forms also are available at the Community Center, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, and all Falls Church City Public Schools offices.

When you order, be sure to note where you want the mulch placed on delivery day. The deadline for orders is March 22. Deliveries will be made on Saturday, April 2.

For more information, contact: Surbhi... [Read more...]


Transformer Explosion Cuts Power and Closes Roads

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
March 9, 2016

A truck attempting to park on Ellison Street hit a support wire for an electrical transformer Tuesday afternoon, causing a chain reaction that cut power to nearly 50 homes and businesses for an extended period.

The power outage briefly shut down the traffic light at Broad and West streets, and forced the closure of Ellison and Patterson streets as crews from Dominion Power brought in multiple equipment trucks to replace or repair the damaged transformers.

The episode began around 2:30 pm Tuesday. When the truck hit the support wire, which was secured into the concrete sidewalk, the transformer it was holding exploded with a thundering noise, and the top several feet of it broke off but did not fall. That may have been fortunate, because an electrical repair worker told the Times that it contains 20,000 volts, a very dangerous amount of power.

However, the toppling of that transformer damaged several others on the street, and the one at the corner of Ellison and West streets rained pieces of wood on a car that was driving by. The driver was not injured.

Police quickly... [Read more...]


Bomb Threat Called into Mason High School (Update: All Clear)

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
March 4, 2016

A bomb threat was called into George Mason High School Friday morning, causing authorities to evacuate the school and investigate with police and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Students and staff were safely moved to the nearby Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School gymnasium within minutes after the threat was called in. Officials say the threat was an automated phone call, and that identical such calls also were sent to several other area high schools, including McLean, Fairfax’s Falls Church High School, Herndon High, Stone Bridge, and Potomac High.

The unlikelihood of all those schools having a bomb made it more likely that the threat was a hoax, but officials couldn’t be sure, so they moved everyone out of the school as a precaution. Mason students were served lunch at Henderson, and they apparently were still at the middle school as this story was being written.

Officials asked parents not to come pick up their children, because the entire campus was closed while police, with the help of Arlington-based K-9 units, investigated. Classes for Henderson students are continuing... [Read more...]


Traffic Signal Work to Affect Traffic at 2 Intersections

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
February 21, 2016

City traffic signals will be getting upgrades over the next two weeks, and City officials caution that there will be traffic disruptions as a result.

Public Works staff will be replacing the “cabinets” which house the electrical brains for the traffic signals at Park Ave. and N. Washington St. and at Annandale Rd. and W. Broad St. For both locations, work and the resulting traffic impacts are expected to take place during working hours and not at rush hour.

The Park Ave. and N. Washington St. signal will be dark during working hours on February 22 and should be completed within the day. Left turns from Park Ave will be temporarily prohibited and the left turn lane will be closed. Power to the signal will be turned off, so N. Washington St. traffic will be uncontrolled. Park Ave. right turns on to southbound Washington will have a temporary stop sign. The existing cabinet at this intersection has faulty wiring and has overheated in the past.

Work along W. Broad St. is scheduled to begin the week of February 29 and should take three to five days to complete.... [Read more...]


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