Council discusses salary increases, affordable housing at legislative meeting

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King Street Waterfront Park rendering (Rendering/City of Alexandria)
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By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

Council passed the ordinance on first reading to increase annual compensation for mayor to $41,600 and for other members of city council to $37,500 at its June 13 legislative meeting.

The ordinance is scheduled for second reading and a final vote at Saturday’s public hearing. The salary increases would apply to the next mayor and council, who will be sworn into office in January 2019.

Council also held a work session to discuss the Route 1 Housing Affordability Strategy. The strategy is a planning effort adopted in May 2017 to preserve affordable housing in the Southwest Quadrant Small Area as density increases in the area. City staff members said at the meeting they expect to see redevelopment along Route 1 for the next three to 15 years.

The strategy is a proactive effort to avoid losing 215 affordable housing units at The Heritage at Old Town and Old Town West III when their affordability contracts expire in late 2019 or early 2020. Without proactive planning, the affordability of these units will be permanently lost if property owners choose to redevelop or opt out of their contracts, according to a draft of the plan.

Staff members reported that increasing density in the area is one of the strongest tools for preserving the existing affordable units. While several residents will likely be displaced during redevelopment, all eligible residents will have the opportunity to return to the community, staff said. The plan is still undergoing a community engagement process and is expected to go to public hearing in September of this year.

City Manager Mark Jinks also presented at the meeting the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary recently released report about the CSX train derailment in May.
Early in the morning of May 19, 31 cars came off the tracks, which, in turn, caused a partial bridge collapse.

There were no injuries reported as a result of the incident. The preliminary report identified railbed erosion as the cause for the derailment. Jinks said inspectors visit the tracks every three days as part of regular protocol. NTSB will continue to investigate the incident.

Jinks also provided an update on the King Street Corridor initiative, for which about $1 million is invested in the FY2019 budget.

He said the initiative was ahead of schedule. About two-thirds of the 150 flower baskets scheduled to be put up on the 17 blocks of King Street between the waterfront and the Metro Station have been installed. The initiative also set aside $350,000 for marketing, $375,000 to build a dock for the tall ship making its way to the waterfront in 2019 and compensation for staff to keep the street clean.

“People are already noticing, the businesses and other folks, that it makes a big difference to King Street. So we’re glad to get a kind of early start on that,” Jinks said.

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