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Supervisors Advertise 2017 Tax Rate with 4-Cent Hike

by Karen Goff March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm 10 Comments

Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to advertise a tax rate of $1.13, an increase of 4 cents from the current rate of $1.09 per $100 of assessed value.

The board can adopt a tax rate that is lower, but not higher, than is advertised when it marks-up (makes amendments to) the Advertised Budget on April 19.

The additional tax, which is in keeping with the recommendation of County Executive Ed Long, will provide about $23 million more per one-cent rise for Fairfax County’s coffers for Fiscal Year 2017.

But with a 4-cent increase, the county is still likely to give Fairfax County Public Schools only 3 percent more than it did last year. The schools have been seeking a 6.7-percent raise in order to give employee raises and keep elementary class sizes small.

The schools annually receive about 52 percent of the county’s $3.99 billion budget.

The 4-cent rise will be enough to transfer a total of $2.08 billion to the schools.  Included in that number is a school operating transfer of $1.88 billion (a 3- percent, or $54.75 million, increase from 2016).

The county is also offering $13.1 million in construction support and a school debt service transfer of $189.87 million.

Last month, the Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza requested an FY 2017 operating transfer of $1.95 billion — a $122.7 million increase (6.7 percent) over the FY 2016 General Fund transfer.

At Tuesday’s budget hearing, Supervisor Dan Storck (Mount Vernon) made a motion to consider a 6-cent increase. It did not pass. Then Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee), the board’s Budget Committee Chairman, made a motion to advertise a rate of $1.14, an increase of 5 cents. That motion was tied. Following that, a motion to advertise a 4-cent increase was made and passed 7-3.

“I’m disappointed that the same people who advocated for flexibility voted against flexibility,” McKay said. “They’ve boxed in the Board of Supervisors and tied our hands. It’s now nearly impossible to meet the Superintendent’s request. I strongly believe that would have been possible at 5 cents, and that is why I put forward this responsible rate.”

Several board members said they had to keep the needs of all constituents in mind when considering taxes.

“Mr. Long’s budget left us with the challenge of filling other community needs,” said Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

“I have a constituent who is a senior with 40-plus years in this county,” said Hudgins “I think about where she is going to live next; she may be unable to find housing that will be affordable to her longterm.”

Hudgins said 5 or 6 cents makes sense — until you look at the whole community.

“I can pay an additional $300,” she said. “We ned to think about those who cannot pay.”

School Board Chair Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) said she is disappointed in the advertised tax rate.

“The Board of Supervisors’ decision today to set the advertised tax rate at 4 cents is disappointing because it guarantees that the county and schools budgets cannot both be fully funded, denying the community its rightful role in that conversation,” Hynes said in a statement.

“Today’s decision is discouraging for the thousands of community members who have reached out to the School Board and the Board of Supervisors this year to advocate for a voice in this very important conversation about values and priorities.”

The supervisors also asked for more information regarding putting a meals tax on the ballot. The Board’s legislative package has long supported diversifying the tax base and taking some of the tax burden off homeowners, which a meals tax could do if enacted.

Under Virginia law, if the Board wishes to adopt a meals tax, the voters must decide in the form of a referendum before the Board could even consider implementing.

There will be many opportunities for residents to share comments and concerns regarding the county budget between now and April 26, when the budget will be formally adopted.

There will be budget town meetings and forums throughout the county, as well as three days of budget public hearings at the Fairfax County Government Center April 5-7.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    “The Board of Supervisors’ decision today to set the advertised tax rate
    at 4 cents is disappointing because it guarantees that the county and
    schools budgets cannot both be fully funded, denying the community its
    rightful role in that conversation,” Hynes said in a statement.
    How about this, Hynes: why not cut something from the budget?

  • Greg

    The rate should have been reduced by that amount, not increased. Only 13% of county residences experienced decreases in property values (including that dump Shadowood in Reston); the rest of us experienced stability or increases.

  • 3rdmilleniumteacher

    Because the custodial staffs of our schools have taken hits and cuts year after year from our BOS’s budget cuts, our school sidewalks were impossible to get cleared in a timely way during the recent snow storm, leaving it too dangerous for our schools to reopen. Yet, even with that recent reminder of the results of starving our schools, once again, the BOS and the County Executive tell the schools– cut more, figure out a way to provide premiere services with large class sizes, underpaid teachers, and reductions in student programs. Thanks County Exec. and BOS– you see this as idle threats and a game of semantics. It’s not.

    • Greg

      A snowfall of that amount is extraordinary; it’s no justification to raise taxes.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      FCPS has a $2B budget. There’s plenty of at in their. The problem is that no one wants their sacred cow injured so the School Board pushes financial cuts in places meant to hurt the parents/taxpayers the most. Notice, there were no cuts in ESL budget. Why? Because there’s nothing to be gained there. The Illegal parents neither vote nor pay taxes.

      • Lummsy Nineteen Ninety Five

        Mister Morningwood (haha Morning Wood), maybe the schools should increase the budget for adult learning? I see at least one case that might need remedial English.
        Your mate,
        Richard Hardon

        • Mike M

          So, you get the message, but decide to address HOW it was stated?

          • Lummsy Nineteen Ninety Five

            Tis true, I cannot deny that fact M&M.

        • Chuck Morningwood

          Thank you, Mr. Hardon. The auto-correct feature on the iPad probably should be labeled the auto-incorrect feature.

  • Richard

    It’s clear that Cathy Hudgins no longer represents the opinions of the majority of Restonians. With her support of development projects that are opposed by every Reston citizen organization, her evasiveness and noncommittal regarding the golf course case, and now her lack of support for Fairfax County Schools. Want more? How about her 14-year membership on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority? Look at the performance of that institution over the past decade. If she can no longer support her constituency, it’s time for her to step down and let someone else take over. There are plenty of great local leaders who would add new energy to the job and would support the citizens of the Hunter Mill district. Pat Hynes would be a great choice. As she works to prevent a total collapse of FCPS over the next three years, I hope she also sets the groundwork for a campaign for BOS. Her talents are dearly needed there.


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