Even as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors looks for ways to close the fiscal 2011 budget shortfall, the board is weighing its long-term plans for repairing and constructing county buildings and developing parks.
While county staff have not proposed eliminating any long-term projects from the Capital Improvement Program at this time, there are some challenges ahead, said Len Wales, the county's debt manager.
As the program is planned now, the county will be inching closer to its self-imposed debt limit over the next five years, Wales said. The limit restricts debt payments to 10 percent of the county's general fund.
"We can accomplish everything that we have set out to do right now within the 10 percent. We are very close," he said, projecting that the county will reach 9.66 percent by fiscal 2015.
There are additional expenditures pending related to the so-called "Silver Line," the new 23-mile Metrorail line that will add eight transit stations to the county by 2016.
The county will be obligated to fund another $120 million for the second phase of the project, money which officials have not yet determined how to generate. The remainder of the county's share of the rail construction costs will be paid for via business tax districts.
Wales favors using the county's commercial and industrial tax revenues, which can be used solely for transportation projects, to close the gap. However, supervisors were also informed in February that pool of money is obligated for projects through fiscal 2016.
In addition, Fairfax County will need to begin paying increased operation and maintenance fees into the Metro system once the first five stations open in late 2013, Wales said.
In an unrelated obligation, Fairfax County voters will also likely be asked to vote on a bond referendum this fall that will support the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's capital improvement program. The county is obligated to help finance the projects as part of the regional compact governing the Metro system.
The so-called "Metro Matters" bond program will cost the county about $120 million, Wales said.
A bigger decision is looming regarding what the county can do to upgrade its 43-year-old public safety headquarters, known as the Massey Building. Estimates for repairing or replacing the structure range from $80 million to more than $180 million.
The building has asbestos fireproofing, an overloaded electrical system, an outdated heating and cooling system, and leaks from the roof and plumbing, according to Jose Camayagua Jr., director of the county's facilities management department. Pre-cast concrete pieces on the outside of the building are breaking off, and the building does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Supervisors will receive more information on different options for a new public safety facility, including repairing the existing Massey Building, building a new facility at the government center complex or leasing or purchasing existing office space.