Supervisors Approve Flood Protection Bond Referendum
A $30 million bond referendum for Huntington flood-protection will go to voters in November.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a plan to put a $30 million bond referendum for flood prevention measures in Huntington on ballots this November.
The 6-3 vote to approve came a month after Huntington residents formally urged the board for flood protection improvements after last September’s severe flooding forced 200 people to evacuate the area.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland drafted the resolution to allow voters to decide whether to add the $30 million bond to a $155 million package of bonds that would fund parks, public safety and library improvements, bringing the total package of $185 million.
Hyland said that the area had been waiting 40 years for protection from floods and still hadn’t received any.
“[In 2011] the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped seven inches of rain in September, killing four people in Fairfax County,” reads Hyland’s resolution. “It was a miracle that no one died in Huntington, though some people came close.”
The board’s three Republican supervisors – John Cook (Braddock), Pat Herrity (Springfield) and John Frey (Sully) – voted against the resolution.
The supervisors also debated the idea of raising the bond amount to $50 million, $30 million of which would still go to flood prevention while the other $20 million would go toward other stormwater projects.
But the motion to amend the resolution failed in a 5-4 vote after drawing sharp criticism from Frey, Cook and Herrity. Providence District Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth also voted against the motion.
Herrity said that the county needed to further explore private sector redevelopment in the area, as it should have done over the last few months.
“I clearly think we need a solution for Huntington,” he said. “I’m fully in support of trying to find a solution. I don’t believe we as a county have fully explored a private solution to this problem. The idea of this bond has not been completely thought through.”
Cook applauded Hyland’s continued efforts to help his constituents, but said the resolution wasn’t ready for a vote yet, and called the proposed addition of $20 million “fiscally reckless.”
“Do we really want to go to the voters with something that isn’t fully vetted yet?” he said.
Frey and Cook also argued it wasn’t a good idea to borrow money after telling the school system there was no bond money for renovating schools.
The bond package, to which the $30 million in flood prevention would be added, already includes $75 million for parks, $55 million for public safety and $25 million for libraries.