Follow Up to My Comments at the April 4th Budget Hearing

I wanted to expand upon my comments at the April 4th budget hearing reported in the Sun Gazette:

Hold a design charrette for the Town. Information on the Town hosting a design charrette to be provided through the Northern Virginia Regional Commission was discussed at the March 28th work session.  Three different elements were under consideration:

  1. Maple Avenue
  2. Town Square (CBD)
  3. Parks.

My comment was to confirm that both the Maple Avenue and Town Square elements had been funded because this is priority of Planning Commission and strongly linked action items in the draft of the updated Comprehensive Plan.

Provide better pavement marking.  During the March 28th work session the Council agreed to modify the budget to increase the funds for maintenance of pavement markings from $20,000 to $40,000 per year.  My comment was to confirm that this increase was retained in the budget proposal under consideration.  Various new traffic calming and safety measures such as speed humps and high visibility crosswalks have been install all over Town in the past several years.  It is vitally important to maintain these assets in managed way on recurring basis.  As we install more pavement markings across Town improve safety the maintenance budget should be funding accordingly.  I would also support that the public works department incorporate pavement markings and other traffic control devices into an asset management system (see item below)

Produce a forward-looking information-technology plan.  Information technology is changing at a rapid pace.  How staff, businesses and residents exchange information will change in the coming 2-10 years.  Town should be planning not for the next year but in a forward-looking manner so that the way the Town does business moves forward. This isn’t as simple about which operating system is on the office computers, though that is one part.  It is about the finance system, accepting electronic payments, the police dispatch systems, crash records system, electronic submissions of applications and permits, engineering and planning records, traffic signals controllers, communication with the public through the cable channel, website and smart phone applications to name a short part of a potential list.  Hardware and software in all of these areas is rapidly advancing and the Town should take a critical look in the 2-5 year and 5-10 time horizon to understand user (and audience) needs and how that may translate into technology requirements.

Provide tax incentives to retain small businesses in Vienna.  I requested during the hearing that Town Council hold a work session on the subject financial incentives toward the creation and retention of locally owned and/or small businesses in Town.  One of challenges our community’s businesses will face over the coming years due the impact of regional economics and the Tysons development will be progressively increasing land value and leasing rates.  This presents small and/or locally-owned businesses with an additional challenges beyond the usual ones affecting profit and loss in their business models.  Obviously, this would be different for different types of businesses. Many communities have structured individually or in combination:  tax incentives, or credits, special enterprise zones, incubator areas and etc. Staff, elected and appointed officials with the public’s input should have a conversation about what opportunities are available in Virginia that the Town may want to consider.

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