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Here’s What Else is in Fairfax’s Proposed 2017 Budget

by Karen Goff — February 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm 17 Comments

Fairfax County Budget 2017/Courtesy Fairfax County

When Fairfax County Executive Ed Long presented his $3.99 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Proposed Budget to the Board of Supervisors last week, one of the main highlights was a $2.08 billion transfer to the school system — which is about $68 million less than what the Fairfax County Public Schools have requested.

To get there — and to meet other county needs — Long is proposing a 4-cent real estate tax increase (per $100 of value), which would represent an increase of about $303 for the average county homeowner. The current tax rate is $1.09 per $100 of value.

If the Board of Supervisors approves Long’s recommendation to increase the tax rate by the full 4 cents, it would be the largest such increase since 2010, when the board approved a 12-cent hike to offset the effects of the 2008 recession.

The supervisors will advertise a tax rate on March 1 (it can be lower than 4 cents), with public hearings in April.

The county will host an online chat with Long on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. You can ask a question in advance on the county’s website.

There are many other specifics in the plan, including millions for county employee raises and infrastructure improvements. Here are a few examples:

Employee compensation: A 1.33 percent market rate adjustment raise for all county employees ($15.38 million); $11.73 million for General County employee pay increases; and $8.5 million for public safety pay increases, which reflect merit and longevity increases for all eligible public safety employees.

A $5.62 million increase in employer contributions to the retirement systems.

Public Safety: Funding of $7.5 million for the first year of a multiyear strategy requiring increased staffing and funding to implement recommendations from the Ad‐Hoc Police Commission, including the Diversion First program, body cameras and independent oversight.

An increase of $3.14 million for the first year of a multiyear strategy to fully fund the opening of a new police station and animal shelter in South County approved by a Public Safety bond referendum in November of 2015.

A $2.9 million increase to hire 14 new patrol offices.

Infrastructure: The county will propose a Fall 2016 referendum to include Human Services/Community Development – $85 million; Parks – $107 million; Metro – $120 million.

$5 million for replacement and infrastructure support.

Recreation: Funding in the amount of $7.7 million (A General Fund transfer of $6.1 million and $1.6 million in revenue generated from the the Athletic Services Fee. Over $2 million will go for turf field replacement

$1.9 million for Fairfax County Park Authority maintenance of both facilities and grounds.

$400,000 for emergency and critical maintenance of county trails, sidewalks and pedestrian bridges.

Debt service: $136.75 million, nearly $9 million more than in FY2016.

Information technology: $6.81 million to meet objectives of the Senior Information Technology Steering Committee.

Other: $1 million in costs associated with the 2016 Presidential Election (payment for poll workers, overtime for employees, etc.)

Savings: Fairfax County will save $13.63 million by the implementation of an Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) for Medicare retiree prescription drug coverage. ($10 million) and $3 million in fuel due to lower gas prices, among other areas.

Critical shortages:  “The difference between the FY 2017 Advertised and the FCPS Operating request is almost $68 million,” said Long. “We have not gone as far as we need in investing in infrastructure (facilities and technology). No money has been set aside to provide us flexibility to address economic development opportunities. Other unmet County needs, such as additional public safety staffing, and human service requirements.”

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Too bad they didn’t go for a 6- or 8-cent tax increase, to fully fund the schools and these other programs – and it would be nice to get some of the paths in our area replaced, as there are a few that are badly cracked from tree roots pushing them up several inches or from the ground beneath them sinking.

    • Pool Schooler

      The paths in Reston are RA not county. But I agree otherwise I’d like to see smaller class sizes, higher teacher pay to attract better teachers, and funding enrichment programs.
      What the Teaparty people don’t get is that FFxCo is what it is because of the schools. The exceelent schools attract the great employers that are in our area and the nice expensive home they live in is priced in part due to the FFxCo schools.

      Schools and Pools, are what makes Reston great. Lose one or the other and you may as well live in Ashburn.

      • Arielle in NoVA

        I don’t live *in* Reston – grew up there, but we live just south of Reston/Herndon now – so the paths I was referring to are county, not RA. Good point about the paths, though, and I agree with the rest of your items.

      • Mike M

        Fairfax County is what it is because of Federal Spending. The schools are grossly overrated and poorly managed.

  • cosmic93

    Also, the Supervisors can in fact advertise a rate higher than what the Exec. proposed. What they can’t do is impose a rate higher than what they advertise… but the Exec.’s proposal does not tie their hands yet!

  • gaylie corens

    I sincerely hope the rate does not go above the 4 cents. If this happens, my property taxes will have gone up over 20% in a 5 year period!! That is not sustainable. It’s got to stop. My income cannot keep pace. I support the schools, but they have got to cut some of these programs that can be delivered in other ways, like the AAP centers. There is no perfect answer, and there is pain all around but how can you expect people to continue to bear that kind of increases???

    • Mike M

      I’d say you are feeling the Bern. But I’ll bet you’ll still vote Democrat locally. Feels good, maybe, but it’s poison.

      • cRAzy

        Wow! I didn’t know Bernie was on the Board of Supervisors!

        And please note that, if elected, it will be the wealthy that “feel the Bern” the most as higher incomes have higher tax rates.

        Unfortunately, property taxes are one rate for everyone, wealthy or not. In fact, property tax rates have absolutely nothing to do with an owners’ ability to pay the tax.

        • Mike M

          You are ignoring a lot of realities here:
          – Not everyone has the same qualifications as property owner.
          – More and more people in FFX pay nada for a whole variety of reasons.
          – Bernie IS on the Board in spirit. Tis the spirit of Socialism where we all must pay for poorly managed, never ending bloat.
          – You can easily outstrip what the “wealthy” can pay with ever expanding requirements.
          – Socialism does not work.

          • cRAzy

            – Not everyone has the same qualifications as property owner. YOU MEAN LIKE THE PROPERTY OWNERS IN SHADOWOOD?
            – More and more people in FFX pay nada for a whole variety of reasons. SO STOP THAT! WHAT’S YOUR POINT?
            – Bernie IS on the Board in spirit. Tis the spirit of Socialism where we all must pay for poorly managed, never ending bloat. THE BOARD MAKES BAD DECISIONS AND GOOD ONES, BUT THE BUDGET HASN’T GROWN MUCH MORE THAN INFLATION–AND THAT’S DARN LOW!
            – You can easily outstrip what the “wealthy” can pay with ever expanding requirements. LOVE TO GIVE IT A TRY!
            – Socialism does not work. HMMMM….SWEDEN, DENMARK, ACTUALLY MOST OF EUROPE–SOME OF WHICH WORKS, SOME DOESNT (EG-ITALY). SO A GROSS OVER-GENERALIZATION.

          • Mike M

            All caps. Sweet!

            If everyone who benefits is not paying in, that’s a huge problem. The budget is growing faster than inflation and they are racking up significant bond debt too. My tax bill has exceeded inflation rather consistently. That’s clear mismanagement. Sweden and Denmark are not the US. They remain highly non-diverse although they are “fixing” that and finding they cannot afford it. They are nowhere near as Socialist as most neo-Socialists in the US pretend them to be. You surely did not know that 10% of Danes own 80% of the wealth, for example. They are also a lot more right wing than most Americans think

          • Why do you bother?

            “Heroine is not so bad”

            She seems like a nice girl to me! If you’re going to foam at the mouth with indignation, at least get the spleling right.

          • Mike M

            TY!

          • Mike M

            I done re-spleled it.

  • TBird73

    I love how whatever number the schools come up with is magically taken as the minimum amount of what they need, no questions asked and no justification needed. I guess nobody noticed how their tune instantly changed after the Supervisor elections, azd two of their own got elected. Suddenly, there will be NO cuts. What a crock of crooks. FCPS can bite me.

    • Mike M

      FCPS has been biting you. They are planing yet a bigger bite. They are insatiable. The state is not doing enough. The Feds are not doing enough. And YOU, silly taxpayer, you OWE the beast! They will not be satisfied until you move to Loudoun or further and they are stuck with non-payers and they become the “Inner City,” economically and socially speaking. I am reminded of West Baltimore.

  • All other factors being equal

    The real estate tax needs to be increased simply because the cycle demands it. Values are too high and that is not sustainable. My guess, a 15% drop short term and longer term 40%; condos even more.

    County planners are not stupid.

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