To members of the Fairfax City Council, the $2.6 million bond issue that the city's 9,357 voters will be asked to approve or reject in a referendum Tuesday represents, in the words of one council member, "fiscal common sense."
To former Fairfax City mayor Nathanial Young, the bond proposals to buy four schools from Fairfax County and pay the county the city's share of the cost of a new courthouse and adult detention center is "financial shenanigans."
The newly elected City Council whose members campaigned with the promise of renegotiating city contracts with Fairfax County and did, is asking voters to approve a $1.6 million bond issue to purchase four schools from Fairfax County, a $900,000 bond issue to pay the city's share of the construction of the new county courthouse and a $135,000 bond issue to pay the city's share of the new adult detention center. The city uses the county schools adult detention center and courthouse.
"The key to the whole thing is that if that bond referendum passes, we will be able to lower the real estate tax rate by 15 cents," said Fairfax City Mayor Frederick W. Silverthorne.
Silverthorne said the tax rate could be reduced because the city would have a budget surplus of more than $1 million by July 1980. If the bond referendum pass5s, the city will not have to use the budget surplus to help purchase the schools or pay its share of the cost of the adult detention center and courthouse.
"It's the more efficient way," said Silverthorne, who added that by purchasing the schools with 20-year bonds the parents whose children actually use the schools would be paying for them.
But Young, who was defeated in May, disagrees. "It's financial shenanigans," he said. "They're trying to fool people. They're trying to make themselves look like heroes -- like better managers."
Young said he believes the City Council should purchase the four schools -- Layton Hall, Westmore and Greenacres elementary schools and Sidney Lanier intermediate school -- out of the annual budget financed by tax revenues.
Should the bond issue pass, the city will own all the schools within its city limits.
Young, who had led a move for an independent school system before he lost his bid for reelection, said he always felt that the schools should be purchased from the county. "The question is whether the council will take a 'no' vote to mean that the people don't want to buy the schools," he said.
"I will vote for the dern thing (the school bond issue),' he said, "although it will tie my stomach in knots when I flip that lever."
Young said he will vote against the bond issues on the courthouse and detention center, remarking, "We've got plenty of time to pay for them."
The Fairfax Alliance of City Taxpayers, which represents about 70 taxpayers, also opposes the courthouse and adult detention center bond issues.
Under an agreement with Fairfax County officials, Fairfax city leaders said they would present the bond issues on the courthouse and adult detention center before June 30. If the voters reject those two bond issues on Tuesday, the City Council will present them again at referendum every two years thereafter until they are approved.
If the voters fail to approve the issues by June 30, 1983, the entire amount owed for the facilities will be due and payable to the county in three annual installments.
Under an agreement with the county, the city can purchase the four schools for $2,959,053 -- 1961 valuations as long as they are purchased by June 30, 1980. The city has already been been given credit for part of the amount it has paid. If the schools are not purchased by 1980, they could only be bought at current market prices, which is more than $5 million.