Personal security cameras, speed cameras in school zones, summer youth employment programs and eviction prevention funding are just a few of the final additions included in the fiscal year 2024 budget by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday.
Council approved funding a $20,000 program to encourage businesses and homeowners with a “small incentive” to set up security cameras to deter crime, as well as increase their coordination with the Alexandria Police Department.
“I like the concept,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “I think we want our residents to partner with us in providing this kind of neighborhood visibility.”
Other additions include $490,000 for five speed cameras at school crossing zones around the city. Last year, Council approved $400,000 for the speed camera program in five school zones.
Not all of the requests made the final cut. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson’s request to give the Alexandria Commission for Women $20,000 for it’s 50th anniversary event failed to gain consensus.
Council also took $657,629 from the budget that was intended for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street), pending proposals from City Manager Jim Parajon to find alternative uses for the facility, pursue regional partnerships for facility use and optimize capacity for the underutilized space.
The full list of additions to the budget are below.
- Out of School Time Program (OSTP) staffing ($200,000) — This increases paid leave and benefits for part-time staffing with the city’s Out of School Time program.
- Fee waiver for OSTP participants ($15,000) — This would fund a waiver for program participants eligible for SNAP and TANF.
- Speed cameras in school zones ($490,000) — This adds five photo speed cameras to school crossing zones prioritized by the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services
- Childcare services ($50,000) — This will provide child-minding services at City COuncil town hall events, as well as select board, committee and commission meetings.
- Additional eviction prevention funding ($150,000) — This would increase the current funding level of $100,000, all of which will “reasonably assist 40 households in FY24,” according to the city.
- Central coordinator for immigrant affairs/refugee settlement ($110,000) — This would explore a new position or series of positions that could advance efforts to connect immigrant communities with information, resources and services and address the city’s challenges with immigrant populations.
- RPCA Mental Health Pilot position ($75,000) — These funds would go toward developing a Department of Recreation Parks and Cultural Activities pilot program for youth mental health services.
- Summer youth employment program ($214,943) — This would expand the program by 50%, to serve 255 children (85 more than the current program).
- Study for local housing voucher program ($250,000) — This would add funding for a study on a voucher-like program that stabilizes housing and enables access for low-income housholds across the city’s private rental market.
- City library security ($70,000) — This funding maintains library security staffing at current levels.
- Department of Aging and Adult Services ($19,000) — This fills the gap created by Virginia budget formula changed related to the Older Americans Act.
- DASH service line expansion on Line 33 ($120,000) — This would expand DASH Line 33 service from once every 60 minutes to 30 minutes on Sundays, easing connections to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station.
- Visit Alexandria advertising ($78,000) — This additional funding can be used by Visit Alexandria for any sort of media, online or print advertising, either regionally or nationally at their discretion.
- City Council aide compensation increase ($5,300) — This is a 2% scale compensation adjustment.
- Private security camera incentive program ($20,000)
- Continuation of AEDP economic recovery manager ($147,208) — The ERPM is responsible for creating and administering AEDPs Business Association Grant program, which supports Alexandria business associations as well as other ARDP rogramming to promote economic recovery.
- Rental inspection program enhancement ($136,000) — This allows staff to evaluate non-compliant multi-family rental properties.
The budget will be approved on May 3 and go into effect on July 1.
The City of Alexandria is planning to work with a local non-profit to quantify the demand for after-school activities.
According to the docket, the funding is part of an effort to “explore how to expand academic, social, and emotional services and physical supports to all youth during the out-of-school time hours.”
The new study would examine the levels of demand for after-school programming around Alexandria, including a look at where programs are or aren’t available or being utilized.
“The scope of work includes a survey to all Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) parents to determine where children are currently going after the school day ends, the frequency of after school support needed, and the type of support needed,” the memo said. “It also includes follow up focus groups in areas of the city with lower utilization rates of after school programs to better understand barriers, including cost and cultural understanding around childcare.”
The study is itself a follow-up on work the group did to survey after-school providers and needs specifically for middle school students. If the funding for the new report goes through, the memo said staff will return with more data on where the city should direct the rest of the $340,000 set aside to support local youth and families.
Alexandria announces $7.1 million in funding for first-time homebuyers — “The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the availability of Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) funds to provide eligible first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for their home purchase. SPARC is a special allocation to local governments to reduce first trust mortgage interest rates.” [City of Alexandria]
Six ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in Alexandria — “Port City Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen brew is a Bavarian-style wheat hale pouring hazy golden with fluffy white foam, tinged with aromas of clove and spice with a softer note of ripe banana. Pick up a four-pack via curbside pickup or Port City On Demand, or sip at an outdoor table at the West End headquarters.” [Visit Alexandria]
Today’s weather — “Showers likely along with a possible rumble of thunder in the morning, then partly cloudy late. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 53F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New job: Play expert — “Play Experts provide engaging and educational services to children in their homes. A step above a typical caregiver, our Play Experts are trained in child development as well as positive-behavior systems. They understand the importance of developmentally appropriate and engaging play, as well as consistent structure and boundaries.” [Indeed]
The Child and Family Network Centers was all set up to open preschool to kids in low-income families on September 8, but a recently burst sewer pipe inside their Arlandria/Chirilagua-based classroom has put the program on hold for more than a dozen area children.
The nonprofit is launching a $50,000 fundraiser and is tapping into its reserves to renovate the classroom, which is located in an apartment within the Arlandria-Chirilagua Housing Cooperative. The classroom provides critical child care and education for low-income, immigrant essential workers in the heavily Latino section of Alexandria.
“It’s really difficult to find classroom space, especially in Chirilagua right now,” Jackie Didio, the executive director of CFNC, told ALXnow. “If we don’t open on time we’ll have playdates and at least try to get the kiddos at that outside playground in front of the building. We’re going to try our best to support the families as much as we can while we’re fixing the classroom.”
The classroom/apartment has also now become infested with fleas. The necessary work includes plumbing repairs, replacing all of the furniture and classroom supplies, as well as installing new cabinets and carpeting.
“We’re actually in the search this year for even more classroom spaces because the need is so high, but it’s really difficult to find space, especially in Chirilagua right now,” Didio said. “We were open all last year, too, and that was a challenge. We’re trying to serve the families in our low-income communities here in Alexandria… I know we have such an amazing community and with your help, I know that we can do it.”
Alexandria announces modified out of school time school year recreation program — “The City of Alexandria will offer a modified Out of School Time Program (OSTP) for elementary school aged children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade for the 2021-22 school year. The after-school recreation program is scheduled for August 23, 2021 through June 10, 2022, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Charles Barrett; Charles Houston; Mount Vernon; Leonard “Chick” Armstrong; Nannie J. Lee; Patrick Henry; and William Ramsay recreation centers, and at the Ferdinand T. Day; John Adams; and Douglas MacArthur elementary schools.” [City of Alexandria]
Council candidate Patrick Moran testifies for bringing back School Resource Officer funding — “Moran calls for the full implementation of body cameras for Alexandria Police Department (APD) officers and for corrective action to protect Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students’ safety in 2021-22 School Year.” [YouTube]
Senior center gets upgrade — “St. Martin de Porres Senior Center on Taney Ave. has served Alexandria’s seniors for 45 years. During the pandemic, the site has been closed. This provided HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV) with an opportunity to undertake a $44,000 upgrade of the facility.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies (during the day). High near 80F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 61F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Floral clerk at Balducci’s — “As a Floral Clerk, some of your duties will include stocking the department with fresh flowers, potted plants, balloons, and other floral merchandise. You will design and create custom floral arrangements and make product recommendations for our customers’ special occasions. Your job will be to provide customers with exceptional customer service.” [Indeed]
Jollibee to open first Alexandria restaurant — “The Filipino chicken restaurant Jollibee is bringing its signature Chickenjoy to Alexandria. Jollibee will open in Lincolnia at the intersection of Beauregard Street and Little River Turnpike. The building was previously occupied by Boston Market. Jollibee has about 40 restaurants in the United States — primarily in California — and more than 1,300 restaurants worldwide.” [Alexandria Living]
Bishop Ireton seniors win honors — “Congratulations to senior Mary Kate Mull who was named the Commonwealth of Virginia Young Woman of the Year by the Knights of Columbus! She is the first BI student to win this statewide prestigious honor. Mary Kate and senior Critter Johnson were named Young Woman and Young Man of the Year by the Knights of Columbus, Fitzgerald Council #459. Seniors Madeleine Klunder and Aidan Fedorochko received the same honors from the Knights of Columbus, Springfield Council #6153. Bravo to these amazing students!” [Facebook]
Gastropub ‘Old Hat Bar’ opens May 21 at the Former King Street Blues location — “Anticipating their opening for almost two years, friends and business partners, Jack Caminos and Tim Prosser are looking forward to introducing Old Town to Old Hat Bar Friday, May 21. Newly renovated 112 N. Saint Asaph Street, the former King Street Blues location, has kept some of the booths and has refinished the original bars along with adding their own artistic style to the location.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy (during the day). High around 75F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph… Mostly cloudy (in the evening). Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Child watch attendant –– “The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is one of the largest charities in the DC area. The Y serves as an anchor in the community offering programs and services encompassing youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.” [Indeed]
If you are a daycare provider or have kids in child care, the Alexandria Health Department will conduct the first of virtual two town hall meetings on the subject starting tonight (Thursday, Oct. 15) at 6 p.m.
“Guardians will be reminded of the steps they can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and share resources,” notes a city release.
One recommendation the city asks is for child care providers to complete an emergency child care provider registration form.
“This application is for any child care center or family day home program,” according to the city. “To date, the response has been strong. It is clear that the child care community wants to do what they can to help.”
Parents are also asked to fill out the parent child care needs registration form, and the city says it will notify families of “potential care providers that meet their needs.”
Topics of discussion include:
- When to keep a child home from daycare
- When to get a child tested for COVID-19
- When to return a child to daycare
- What are some common infection scenarios
As of Oct. 5, there are more than 60 child care providers in the city. Over the summer, the Alexandria Emergency Child Care Collaborative and Smart Beginnings Alexandria hosted a virtual child care open house.
The next virtual town hall will be held on Monday, October 19, at 6 p.m.
Beyer Wishes Speedy Recovery, Then Refutes Trump Tweet — “We continue to hope that the President is feeling well and will recover swiftly, but it must be pointed out that this is a bunch of nonsense. None of it is true.” [Twitter]
City Offering Free COVID Tests — “In partnership with our friends at @NeighborhoodHth the City will be hosting free COVID-19 testing events every week this month throughout our City.” [Twitter]
DASH Adding Six Electric Buses — “The buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America and Proterra. They are 40 feet in length and rely completely on battery power rather than gasoline.” [Zebra]
Commonwealth Avenue Improvements Proposed — “A portion of Commonwealth Avenue in the Rosemont area is scheduled to be repaved in 2021, and the city is seeking feedback on improvements that could go along with it.” [Patch]
Walk to Bust Breast Cancer Goes Virtual — “This month you may notices some painted angel wings around Alexandria. These wings are part of the National Breast Center Foundation’s new Angel Wing Challenge associated with the annual Walk to Bust Breast Cancer, which looks a little different this year.” [Alexandria Living]
Recreation Centers Providing Childcare for Essential Workers — “There are currently 250 students enrolled in the full-day program at no cost to families. Many of these children have parents who are essential workers.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear skies (at night). Low near 55F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Marketing Communications Specialist — “To be successful in this position, the Marketing Communications Specialist must demonstrate strong persuasive writing skills, strong digital layout design skills and be an overall expert in digital and social media marketing.” [Indeed]
Alexandria is working with regional partners to determine the challenges facing families needing childcare amid the pandemic, and have released a survey to the public.
The survey, which is open until August 30, has 12 questions and asks respondents how many children they have, the hours the adults in the home work, and about the challenges facing them with childcare.
“The results will help the task force and local partners better understand the needs and preferences of Alexandria families as they work with child care providers to develop and provide child care offerings,” according to the city.
Families, please participate in this online survey to help assess child care needs and preferences in Alexandria during…
Alexandria is hosting an online open house this Wednesday to try to connect local families with an affordable range of child care options.
A virtual open house is scheduled for August 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. on Zoom. Participants can register online to receive a link to the Zoom call.
“The Open House on August 18 will virtually showcase just a few of the child care options in the City,” said Robin Crawley, the city employee running the program. “Programs across the City may offer both in-person and virtual options. While programs have already established their plans for in-person programming… virtual options are being considered as we continue to hear the voices of parents and their preferences.”
Crawley said families can identify their child care needs in an online survey to prioritize care based on location, time of day, age of children and preferred structure of care.
“As COVID-19 requires additional demands on our workforce to support our health care system and essential services, child care will be a vital part of Alexandria’s response,” the city said on its website. “The Department of Community and Human Services is partnering in a local Emergency Child Care Collaborative (ECCC) to assess needs and establish a system of emergency child care accordingly.”
The collaboration is aimed at finding child care for those who have no other options, like keeping family with a relative or other safe arrangements.
“There are public and private options for child care in the City,” Crawley said. “Out of pocket costs for families fall along a continuum. For instance, there is no out of pocket costs for publicly funded child care programs like the City of Alexandria Head Start Program, The Campagna Center Early Head Start Program and ACPS Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Program. Some programs like Child and Family Network Centers charge only a registration fee or family co-payment based on their established mission. Creative Play School along with other programs participate in a mixed delivery approach to child care costs which helps them to leverage local, state, and family funds in order to make child care affordable.”
Crawley said the goal was to work with various child care providers to create options affordable to various income brackets.
“Through a combination of for profit and non-profit programs, the City of Alexandria is committed to making equitable, affordable and quality child care options accessible for all families regardless of income or zip code,” Crawley said.
Alexandria City Public Schools is currently also trying to put together plans to offer child care during school hours.