This Week: Speak Up on Fairfax County’s Budget

Fairfax County Budget 2017/Courtesy Fairfax County

Fairfax County is facing potential cuts to services and the public schools as the Board of Supervisors prepares to vote on the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.

But the public has several chances to speak up on what is important as the supervisors will hold public hearings on the advertised tax rate rise and the budget in general on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.

The supervisors are preparing to vote on the budget on April 19. The 2016 budget remains in effect until June 30.

They will also discuss the county’s third quarter package, which contains savings and spending requirements such as additional costs related to snow removal and savings related to current fuel costs that result in no net General Fund impact.

County Executive Ed Long has recommended $20.5 million in previous one-time balances be used to increase reserve levels and to be utilized by the Board. Long’s recommendations for use of these funds:

  • $10.25 million to continue to build the county’s budget reserves.
  • $10.25 million available for the Board to consider allocating to one-time uses, which could include: Making additional contributions to reserves.
    Putting funds aside for future development opportunities.
  • Continuing to address the backlog of county infrastructure needs.
  • Meeting one-time capital requirements at various facilities.

As far as the 2017 budget, Long recommended and the supervisors approved an advertised tax rate rise of 4 cents per $100 of home value for Fairfax’s $3.99 billion budget.

That means the average Fairfax County homeowner will see a rise of about $303 on their tax bill as they will be taxed $1.13 per $100 of home value. That will give the county an extra $23 million in FY 2017.

That still might not be enough to fully fund Fairfax County Public Schools, though. Superintendent Karen Garza has asked for a 6.7 percent rise over last year’s county transfer in order to give staff raises, keep elementary school classes below 30 students and keep extracurricular and special academic programs intact.

The schools annually receive about 52 percent of the county’s $3.99 billion budget. The county has offered a 3-percent increase (to about $2 billion) for the schools, which leaves a gap of over $67 million.

Have something to say about the budget. Here is the public hearing schedule:

  • April 5, 4 p.m. (following  3 p.m. public hearing on tax rate)
  • April 6, 1 p.m.
  • April 7, 1 p.m.

Hearings take place at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. They will also be shown live on Fairfax County Government Channel 16.

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