City Council Holds First Session of 2011

Falls Church Times Staff

January 4, 2011

The Falls Church City Council held a brief public work session Monday evening, then withdrew behind closed doors to discuss legal matters pertaining to the City’s water system. This was the third time in less than a month that the Council has convened in camera  on the subject.  Several claims for overcharges have been filed against Falls Church by Fairfax County customers in the wake of a judicial decision that the system’s rates constituted an unconstitutional tax.

Most of the open session was devoted to aspects of affordable housing.  City staffers Pam Doran and Kevin Denton briefed the Council on the proposed Moderate Income Home Purchase Program (MIHPP), which would provide loan assistance to qualified first-time home buyers of up to 20% of the purchase price towards the purchase of a home.

Gateway project developer Akridge has offered Falls Church either  a cash contribution of $1.3 million or eight affordable dwelling units.  According to Ms. Doran, the cash would enable the City to provide loans for at least 14 to 20 households.  This assumes that not all of the loans would require the maximum loan amount. 

Ms. Doran cautioned that implementation of the program would be dependent upon the availability of sufficient staff resources.  Potential staff cuts would force Housing and Human Services employees to focus on existing programs.  Details of the MHIPP are available in this memorandum. 

The Council also discussed the FY 2012 budget calendar.  Town hall meetings were scheduled for Saturday morning, January 29, and Monday evening, January 31. 

Vice Mayor Dave Snyder chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Nader Baroukh.  Councilwoman Robin Gardner also was absent Monday evening.

January 4, 2011 


7 Responses to “City Council Holds First Session of 2011”

  1. (Name not provided) on January 5th, 2011 7:44 pm

    Time out. The city is in the worst financial shape ever. It (we) may be on the hook for paying legal settlements in this water fiasco, and yet we are entertaining providing loan assistance to first time home buyers. Just doesn’t make sense.

  2. FCC resident on January 5th, 2011 8:06 pm

    I sure hope the City Council is not entertaining providing loan assistance to anyone, how can they even begin to think this little City has the funds for that, meanwhile we don’t have required crosswalks and traffic lights. This City is not meant for pedestrians, that’s for sure.

  3. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on January 5th, 2011 9:22 pm

    I think the loan assistance would come from the $1.3M payment from the builder – not from the general fund. Alternatively, the City could take the units and not mess around with the cash and loan assistance programs (although I assume dealing with units instead of cash would still require some administrative work).

    If The Gateway project goes through and is built we’re still at least a couple of years away from the units or funds being made available.

  4. Michael Baker on January 6th, 2011 8:08 am

    Since the present City Council, in one of the most mean spirited actions in memory, overrode the already approved plans for affordable housing it has become necessary to look at other means for providing these necessary programs. It is not wrong to ask a builder to provide offsets, either in kind or by funds, some support for affordable housing if the City allows construction of more mac-mansions.
    Remember, affordable is based on median family income, which for a family of 4 in this area is over $100,000 annually.
    How many of us could afford to purchase our houses today. I know it’s been used to death, but shouldn’t a community have some housing that those who work for the community can afford.

  5. (Name not provided) on January 6th, 2011 2:45 pm

    The city isn’t a bank or charitable organization – why provide these loans. Funds should be better used elsewhere!

  6. JBB, Falls Church City on January 7th, 2011 5:47 pm

    I think most people have kindness in their hearts and would like to see more affordable housing. FCHC (not for profit organization) attributes their success to donations from citizens and institutional donors (banks, faith communities, businesses & national foundations.) They recently said that they would not take the $55,000 annual City donation. I don’t know the history of this group. It was announced that they have celebrated their 29th anniversary last year. The City has supported this group for years.
    As the comments/ responses above note… what are our priorities now?

    The Gateway proposal notes voluntary contributions of :
    * $1.3 million (more if units are worth more at time of sale) to FCHC;
    * $135,000 for a traffic signal;
    * $15,000 for Four Mile Run improvements;
    * School contribution of $6,746 per condo ( or $7,511 for rental) at time of issuance of first certificate of occupancy (there will be 200 units)
    * Sidewalk repairs & a special stormwater filtration system to reduce the site’s pollutant load on Four Mile Run.
    * etc….

    Would the $1.3 million be better spent on a new school building ,or on equipment for the volunteer Fire Department? The City can list many needs.
    What are our priorities?

    Another thought — is the $1.3 million a tax deductible donation?

  7. vlfrance, City of Falls Church on January 9th, 2011 3:14 pm

    Considering there is a consistent cry for affordable housing, it is my opinion that the Council should accept the affordable housing units over the cash. There will be quite a lot of cash generated towards the schools with the payment per unit towards them (~$1.4mm). I believe our affordable housing should be integrated within the community; I was never a fan of the stand-alone project that fell through since I don’t believe it’s right to have the relative poor be instantly identifiable by a building in which they might live. I see Winter Hill apartments as different since we are all aware that some disabled and elderly require assistance.

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