“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” – Benjamin Franklin
I know this is embarrassing to admit, as some people see me as the sort of guy who thinks he has all of the answers: I’m undecided in the fall election.
Seriously. I’ve thought about this for months. I’ve changed my mind a few times now, and now with the election but days away, I don’t know how I am going to vote.
On one hand, I can vote to take other peoples’ money to pay for programs that will benefit me. Or I can vote to give a cold shoulder to my middle class neighbors, essentially saying I don’t think our tax dollars should protect them.
Should I vote for or against the $30 million Storm Drainage Improvements Bonds? Oh. You thought I was talking about the Presidential election?
Don’t be silly, there’s no way I’m voting for Obama. And while I like a lot of what Gary Johnson stands for, I’m not going to throw away my vote. I’m voting for Romney.
I know how I’m voting on Fairfax County’s other three bond referenda for Libraries ($25m), Parks ($75m), and Public Safety ($55m) — No, No, and No. But I don’t know which way to go in this $30 million Bond Referendum.
A bit of background:
I live in Huntington, Virginia, which is an unincorporated part of Fairfax County about 500 feet from the Beltway and about 1000 feet from Alexandria City. Between the Beltway and my neighborhood there is a body of water called Cameron Run that runs parallel to the Beltway into the Potomac River.
Every three years or so, a big rain storm comes and the 100+ houses a few blocks to my east get a lot of flooding in their neighborhood. It causes a fair amount of damage to the houses of the neighborhood and takes days to subside. The rescue team comes and sets up a command center and nobody usually gets hurt. The last episode occurred year, but in 2006 there was a big flood that caused a lot of damage.
Here’s a quick video from what sounds like Miss Cleo’s brother. (He knows his stuff, I might add.)
My building, which is about five years young and sixteen stories tall, sits on higher ground with an embankment to protect us against most floods (like in 2011).
The houses in this Huntington neighborhood aren’t anything special — like architectural treasures — and they’ve been hit with at least three big floods in the past ten years. In short, not worth too terribly much.
The 2006 flood resulted in so much damage that, in 2008, over 100 residents sued the County and the Virginia Department of Transportation for damages, contending that “the flooding was caused by the relocation of a local stream, Cameron Run, as part of the construction of the Washington, D.C. Beltway, and by the subsequent failure of VDOT to maintain the Run by dredging the sediment that filled it over the years.”
It was rejected by a Circuit Court, and sent back by the Virginia Supreme Court, allowing the petitioners to sue VDOT but not Fairfax County. The petitioners want $9 million.
Since the Beltway was constructed, feet of sediment has built up, or so the petitioners claim. I believe them. Also the Route 1/495 and Telegraph Road/495 Interchange construction, I am sure, have contributed to the sediment. Obviously, more sediment equals more flooding, since Cameron Run is less able to send water to the Potomac.
How this could benefit me:
- It makes flooding less likely in my area in general.
How this could hurt me:
- Since the Levee they want to build starts at Fenwick Drive, it actually might make flooding statistically more likely to hit my property, if the flooding is significant. Previous floods have hit western areas of my neighborhood in the past.
Another thing to consider is property values. As the D.C. area grows, it would make sense that this area would eventually grow. Which, of course, is one of the reasons I chose to live here. The commercial property next door is planning on selling out to developers, and the aging condo/town homes across the street is too.
Yes, passing this Bond Referendum will improve the property values of those houses. Which, may, in turn, help my property value.
Or, my property value might not rise as much as it could…
But, if what some of our County Supervisors says is true — that developers signalled interest in buying out the homes to build there– then the Bond Referendum might not even be necessary, since a developer might build their own levee depending on their needs. That wasn’t considered when the supervisors voted to put this referendum on the ballot, which is why three of them voted no.
Should Fairfax voters borrow $30 million to save 160 or so homes the time and trouble of floods (they’re in a mandatory flood insurance zone). Should the Board of Supervisors taken a little more time before throwing a not inexpensive bond issue on the ballot to consider alternatives? Should I vote to help myself (maybe) and my neighbors knowing others are footing the bill? Should the state and federal government pay for this since their Beltway and subsequent road projects are what probably caused it?
I don’t know. I don’t have all of the answers.
Eleven days left, and I’m still undecided.