The four candidates running for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors answered six questions by email for Patch. We will feature one question over the next six days, with the unedited answers by each of the candidates.
Question #1: Should Fairfax County take local control of its roads, as some surrounding jurisdictions, or allow VDOT's continued control? Explain.
The State is increasingly making overtures about turning the road system (which is now pretty much entirely a State responsibility) over to Fairfax County. Without sufficient State funding being spent for maintenance, primary, secondary and neighborhood roads have been left to deteriorate. Taking over would be equivalent to VDOT running the car out of gas, with all of its safety inspections having failed, coasting it into the County’s driveway and saying “it’s yours!”
Make no mistake about it; if Fairfax County were to take over the road system, it would cost our taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. We should instead be insisting that the Commonwealth of Virginia allocate sufficient funds to maintain roads in Fairfax County at the same level they do other parts of our State.
I would allow VDOT's continued control. It appears that Fairfax County has difficulty even managing the current projects.
I advocate for transparent, accountable government. Therefore, I support local control, local responsibility and local accountability for the construction, improvement and maintenance of our local roads. When our residents complain about traffic and the conditions of our roads, I want the power to provide effective solutions, not excuses and a telephone number to Richmond.
I remind my friends concerned about increased costs with increased control, that the General Assembly has been providing Arlington and Henrico Counties, the only counties with local control, more funding per mile than it sends to Fairfax County. Besides, where do you think the General Assembly gets the money it is doling out? As a team leader with statewide influence, we will work across political lines to effectively advocate our community’s best interests.
The Board of Supervisors, in recently reviewing this issue, consulted with cities and counties who exercise local control. Each consulting locality prefers local control and would not adopt Fairfax County’s status quo of powerless complaints about traffic and road conditions. Clearly, we need local control, local responsibility and local accountability.
Michael “Spike” Williams
Virginia has in recent years begun to encourage counties throughout the commonwealth to take control of maintenance, construction and operations for their secondary roads in a way similar to how Arlington and Henrico counties do today. The state has created a Devolution Guidebook in order to lay out the options and challenges associated with having the state hand this responsibility down for county control. That being said there are real benefits and concerns for Fairfax County should we decide to go down this road. The primary benefit in my mind is local accountability for mowing, snow removal and pot hole repair that will amplify the voice of every resident when they need support. There are many concerns that will need to be addressed in negotiation with the state, one being how much more of our money are we going to get back from the state to cover the increased costs to Fairfax County. Another, what equipment and or facilities will Fairfax need to acquire and how much of this will be included in the transfer, bearing in mind that our tax dollars have paid for what is used by the state to perform this activity. At the end of the day this will come down to a negotiation between Fairfax County and the state, I am in favor of taking control but not at any cost, the terms will have to benefit the residents of Fairfax County. As your Chairman I will ensure that the deal is to our benefit.
Following are links to the subsequently published questions and responses.