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2017 Budget Approved as County Looks at $75M Shortfall for ’18

by Karen Goff April 27, 2016 at 2:00 pm 17 Comments

Sharon Bulova/File photoNow that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a $4.01 billion budget for 2017 — a plan that nearly fully funds Fairfax County Public Schools — it is time to look ahead to Fiscal Year 2018.

The supervisors and the school board will engage in a joint retreat on June 14 to get a jump on what surely is to be another testy budget battle.

Even with a new tax rate, approved on Tuesday, of $1.13 (a 4-cent jump) of assessed home value, the county and the schools will likely feel the pinch again next year.

FCPS superintendent Karen Garza, who had requested a 6-percent increase from the Supervisors for 2017, has already predicted similar needs for 2018 as the nation’s 10th-largest school system faces rising cost drivers such as retirements, health care and the need for special programs.

The budget shortfall initially was about $67 million, but in the end, the schools received about $2 billion from the county, or about a 4.8 percent more than in 2017.

Now, on to 2018.

“There continues to be a projected shortfall of over $75 million as we project ahead to FY 2018,” Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova said at the 2017 budget markup session last week. “This projection includes revenue increases of approximately 2.4 percent based on limited projected growth in the county’s real estate market.”

“The projected shortfall makes it clear that difficult budget decisions lie ahead,” said Bulova. She directed the county executive to outline a FY 2018 budget that “allocates current projected available resources between the County and Schools.”

“It should be noted that the board recognizes that Real Estate rate increases, such as the 4-cent increase included in the FY 2017 budget, are not sustainable,” said Bulova. “The boards will need to balance affordability with the long list of priorities, therefore making these joint conversations extremely important.”

In other words, the supervisors can’t raise taxes every year. There is going to have to be cuts and/or additional sources of revenue.

Some items up for discussion (or not up for discussion) for 2018:

School Capital Improvement – The county’s level of funding ($13.1 million in last two budget years) is permanent, but the county and FCPS should work together on future improvement plans. County staff is also directed to include an analysis in the FY 2018 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of a possible increase in the annual School bond capacity from the current level of $155 million.

Employee Compensation – The County Executive is directed to fully fund the County’s pay plan in his FY 2018 Advertised Budget.

Public Safety Compensation and Organization – County staff will continue studying pay scales for the 2018 budget presentation.

Tax Relief for the Elderly –  For the FY 2018 budget, staff should present the state of the current tax relief program at a future Budget Committee meeting.

Meals Tax/Other Revenue Opportunities – The potential meals tax will be discussed at a May 3 Budget Committee meeting. Said Bulova: “This discussion should focus on an update of the information that has been gathered on the Meals Tax, a review of other opportunities for revenue diversification such as those mentioned by Board members (such as the alcohol, cigarette, BPOL, and personal property taxes).

Sharon Bulova/file photo

  • Ming the Merciless

    FCPS superintendent KG, who had requested a 6-percent increase from the Supervisors for 2017, has already predicted similar needs for 2018

    Hands up how many people got a 6% raise last year?

    I know I didn’t.

    • Greg

      A littler earlier than you predicted yesterday, no?

    • meh

      You should pick the lotto numbers, you predicted this article down to the t yesterday.

  • Scott H

    How is it possible that the county has such a shortfall.
    For 2016, my south reston home’s real estate assessment went up 8%. Many friends had similar. For 2017, we will see a 4-mill increase that amounts to about $300 per home. Revenues are WAY up. We do not have a revenue issue, we have a SPENDING issue.

    Why is it that we only hear the County and FCPS talking about the revenue side and there is never any discussion about the spending side.
    The county is spending $4B – FOUR BILLION – a year now.
    $75M represents less than 2% of that budget. I doubt it would be hard to cut 5% out of the budget. Quit talking about new taxes, cut $200M out of the budget, and replenish the rainy-day fund.

  • Greg

    “In other words, the supervisors can’t raise taxes every year.. But that’s exactly what they do!

    • Mike M

      And Restonians send Hudgins and Bulova back again most reliably. You will see their boldest hits on the taxpayers immediately after their re-elections.

  • meh

    Say it with me now.
    E-S-L

    Was that so hard? There’s where this money keeps going. People that break the law and want free education, food and english lessons for their children without paying for any of it. Yay progress!

  • Why do you bother?

    I wonder how much that ugly “sculpture” in front of the new police station cost?

    • Greg

      They wasted at least $250,000 at each of the silver line metro stations for public “art,” and the station “artist” was entitled to $50,000.

  • Restontimes

    Let’s not forget the Special Tax District 5 impact on Restonians, and now the potential of a new Special Tax District for traffic and infrastructure improvements.

    • Greg

      Madness, isn’t it?

      • Restontimes

        I question the value versus expense associated with the RCC. In my opinion, they continue to push the limits of their charter, always justifying expansion and new facilities with “just takeon more debt” (bonds). At our expense. I believe existing entities in Reston (industry, nonprofits, not-for-profits, etc.) would do a better job.

        • Greg

          I could not agree with you more. When I questioned the RCC budget, I was ignored. I had to ask for a copy of it five times before I was given a copy, and only after filing a FOIA request. It’s long past time to dissolve the STD 5 and its wasteful expenses (how much does the glossy magazine / catalog it frequently mails cost when free on-line access is widely available?).

          It’s especially troubling that underused Lake Anne RCC facility continues to exist while guzzling hundreds of thousands of our dollars annually.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    There continues to be a projected shortfall of over $75 million as
    we project ahead to FY 2018,” Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova said at the
    2017 budget markup session last week.
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    So, Sharon, when are we going to talk about trimming costs instead of taxing underwear?

  • concordpoint

    No rest. Planting the seeds for next years grab. FCPS has been playing the County for money since the days of Spillane, and winning every time. Taxpayers are the only losers.

  • They rise taxes every year supervisors

  • Knotso Much

    $10,000,000 pedestrian bridges.

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