Law Enforcement Hiring

Raises Spending Issues

The county will add 52 police officers by 2006 under a federal program aimed at boosting community policing.

On top of the 37 positions county supervisors recently added to the Sheriff's Department, the law enforcement hiring has prompted questions by some supervisors about increasing spending at a time when the county faces budget cuts.

Supervisors decided to put up $14.3 million of the $18.2 million cost of the police program; the Justice Department covers the rest with a three-year grant. After that, the county must finance the police officers who have been hired.

Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn (R-Dranesville) questioned the timing of the additional hiring. In effect, he said, the supervisors were making a key budget decision about adding personnel months before the fiscal 2004 budget process begins.

Moreover, he said, the federal government is not contributing much of the total cost. Mendelsohn has opposed the additional hiring for the Sheriff's Department because he said it would enlarge the government.

County Executive Anthony H. Griffin, who has been warning the board of possible additional service cuts, especially as the state slashes its budget, said he supported the federal police program because the county needs additional officers.

Supervisors Oppose

Utility Increase

A proposal by Washington Gas Light Co. to increase its rate of return on equity to 12.25 percent is "excessive" and should be reduced, Fairfax County supervisors have told state utility regulators.

Washington Gas has asked the State Corporation Commission for permission to increase the annual cost to the average residential heating customer in Virginia by $47.35, or 6.8 percent. This represents an average monthly increase of about $4.

As part of its request, the company asked to increase its rate of return from 11.5 percent to 12.25 percent. In testimony to the commission, Fairfax supervisors proposed a rate of return of 10.5 percent. The lower rate, along with other recommended reductions in increased service charges proposed by Washington Gas, would save about $6.7 million for Fairfax customers, county staff said.

A public hearing on the Washington Gas proposal is scheduled before state regulators Dec. 16 in Richmond.

Church Group Requests

Holiday Food Donations

A nonprofit consortium of 15 churches called Link is seeking donations of grocery store gift certificates and nonperishable food to help feed more than 800 low-income families in the Herndon and Sterling areas at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Suggested donations for holiday baskets include canned meats, fruits and vegetables, spaghetti sauce and pasta, peanut butter and jelly, rice, cereal and other boxed nonperishable items.

Donations should be dropped off at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 651 Dranesville Rd., Herndon, or Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church, 46833 Harry Byrd Hwy., Sterling, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 through 22.

Families will be able to shop for food at the churches on Nov. 23 and Dec. 21. They will also receive gift certificates to area grocery stores where they can purchase a turkey and perishable items.

For more information or to volunteer to help with the events, call 703-437-1776.

Deadline to Display

Car Decals Approaches

The new yellow county car tax decals must be displayed on all vehicles by midnight Nov. 15.

Decals should be affixed to the windshield of the vehicle, to the right of the state inspection sticker. Motorcycle decals should be displayed on the bike's fork next to the state inspection sticker.

Fairfax requires every motor vehicle garaged, stored or parked in the county to display a decal within 60 days of being purchased or moved into the county.

Decals are $25 for cars, trucks and vans; $18 for motorcycles; and $23 for taxis. They can be purchased at the Department of Tax Administration, 12000 Government Center Pkwy., Suite 223, Fairfax. For more information, call 703-222-8234.

Tickets on Sale

For McLean Home Tour

Tickets for the Woman's Club of McLean's 36th annual holiday homes tour and boutique Dec. 5 are on sale at three area stores.

The tour features five homes, and the boutique offers a variety of handmade crafts and baked goods.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Mesmeralda's of McLean, the Treasure House of Great Falls and Worthington's of Vienna.

The boutique will be at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, on the corner of Chain Bridge Road and Westmoreland Street, McLean.

-- Compiled by Diane Mattingly

and Stephen C. Fehr