County board approves funds for hiring bonuses, school stadium bathrooms

SEIU Local 512 Fairfax President Tammie Wondong delivered remarks at a Board of Supervisors public hearing Tuesday (courtesy SEIU Fairfax)

Fairfax County has officially allocated millions of unspent revenue from the previous year’s budget for items like restrooms for school stadiums and a boost of the county’s hiring program.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 11), the board voted 7-1 to allocate $7.5 million in carryover funds to help install permanent restrooms at 15 Fairfax County Public School outdoor high school stadiums.

“At its heart, this is a matter of equity. No matter which school a student goes to in Fairfax County, it is expected they receive not only a high-quality education, but that they are provided high-quality, accessible facilities as well,” Board Chairman Jeff McKay wrote in a statement.

The school board has already agreed to pitch in half of the funds needed for the new facilities.

The board also approved an additional $2 million for a “comprehensive hiring incentive program,” which could grant up to $15,000 in bonuses for new hires in critical county positions. In total, the reserve includes more than $4 million, but exactly where the money will go remains to be determined.

“A portion of all the funding could be used for all agencies, but we do not know exactly how much of the allocation will be towards hiring incentives until the County Executive reports on the design of the program,” McKay’s office told FFXnow.

The move comes as the Fairfax County Police Department and other public safety entities face historic vacancy rates and staff shortages.

Tammie Wondong, a 32-year county employee and president of SEIU Virginia 512 Fairfax, lauded the board for amending the carryover package to create a hiring incentive program instead of funding raises for top executives.

A recent “benchmark study” of the county’s executive and managerial positions found salaries were generally below market rate. Staff recommended that the pay scale be simplified and adjusted to be more competitive at the Board of Supervisors’ personnel committee meeting on July 26.

“The Board clearly heard employees’ voices because they changed the carryover package to invest in a hiring incentives reserve, instead of executive pay,” Wondong said. “However, the county must do more to ensure fair pay for their hard-working employees who got our community through the worst of the pandemic.”

The union delivered hundreds of petitions urging the county to maintain transparency around the use of carryover funds, relieve wage compression, and ensure all county employees are engaged in future benchmark studies.

Dave Lysons, executive director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, said the county is no longer competitive for many jobs, adding that its current vacancy rate is 13% overall with a 17% rate in public works.

“Fairfax County is no longer competitive for these jobs…We can’t continue like this,” Lyons said.

Other allocations include roughly $25 million for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, part of an overall commitment to fund $100 million in projects over six years.

Supervisors had requested that funds be provided specifically for new sidewalks to Huntley Meadows Park and trail improvements in Gum Springs, but those items didn’t make the final cut.

“The sidewalks were not a part of this current package but may be considered as part of the ongoing $100M commitment to pedestrian safety,” McKay’s office said by email.

Among other needs, the county also allocated $175,000 to design and construct a picnic shelter, ADA-accessible pathway and picnic tables and benches for Justice Park in the Mason District.

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