The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Association voted last week to support a two-year, $39.7-million school bond referendum that will go to the voters April 4. The decision was an endorsement of the county School Board's position that a two-year bond package allows for better capital improvements planning and diminishes the effects of inflation on school construction projects.After hearing School Board Chairman Rodney Page and Board Members Ann Kahn and Gary Jones defend the need for a two-year referendum, the federation voted overwhelmingly to support the bond issue. In the past, strong federation support has been considered important to the success for school bond issues; in 1972 and 1974 school bond referendums that the federation approved only marginally failed to pass.
Toni Carney, chairwoman of the federations' education committee, will be one of three directors of the county's citizen committee to support the referendum.
The $39.7-million bond issue is to include: $29.5 million for construction of five elementary and two intermediate schools in the Burke area and the western sections of the county; $9.9 million for renovations of four elementary schools, two intermediate schools and two high schools, and $293,000 to re-model a school for use as a North County Center for teh Emotionally Disturbed. The board has not decide which building it will use for the center.
The school board last went to the voters for bond funding in June, 1977, for $23 million, including $4 million for air conditioning and refurbishing older schools. However, voters only opproved $19 million, which had been earmarked for new construction.
Kahn, in response to charges that holding a bond referendum in April is more expensive than waiting for a primary or general election, told the federation that "timing did concern us.
"But our consideration was a practical one. If a referendum is held at a time when most voters are not able to focus on it, we are losers. We are also on the short end of publicity when there's a hotly contested election."
"We know that everyone wearies of the yearly bond votes," said Page. "We gain a better planning posture in multi-year proposals."
The federation also voted to support construction of the full 100-mile Metro system, including lines to Franconia and Vienna or Tysons Corner. In a hard-line resolution, the federation took the stance that since the county has met all its obligations under the Metro capital contribution agreement and has caused no construction delays, Metro is obligated to provide the county with more service than truncated rapid rail lines ending in Arlington or Alexandria.
"We don't want a halfway system. Give that one back to DOT," said David Sutherland, chairman of the federation's transportation committee. "It (delays and cost overruns that have plagued Metro construction) wasn't our fault. We haven't added one penny to escalation."
In other action, the federation recommended that an $8.5 million surplus, which the federation estimates will be left from Fairfax County's current operating budget for fiscal 1978 be used in the 1979 budget so county tax rates can be reduced in the coming year.
The county's estimate of the current year's budget surplus is $2.5 million, much lower than the federation's estimates. Last February when the federation estimated a $9.8 million budget surplus for fiscal 1977, the county forecast a $2.7 million surplus. The final surplus was $7.9 million.
Federaion President John Lynch said the federation would recommend a specific tax cut during budget hearings this spring.