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Thursday Morning Notes

Morning Notes

No Increase to Property Tax Rate — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to advertise a property tax rate for FY2018 that is equal to the FY2017 rate. [Washington Post]

‘Epiphany’ Returning to NextStop — Herndon native and South Lakes High School graduate Derek Jasper is a magician, mentalist and deception expert. His show, “Epiphany,” returns to NextStop Theatre in Herndon (269 Sunset Park Drive) next weekend. [Connection Newspapers]

Herndon Police Led on High-Speed Chase — A traffic stop Sunday near the intersection of Crestview Drive and Herndon Parkway turned into chase when the driver fled. Herndon Police later found the vehicle, but not the driver. [Herndon Patch]

FCPD Gang Unit Involved in Search for Remains — Acting on recently received information, Fairfax County Police Department homicide, gang unit and crime scene detectives have been looking for human remains in Holmes Run Park and Lemon Road Park, near Falls Church. This follows an earlier investigation in which 10 people (including a Reston woman) were charged with gang activity in connection with the killing of a 15-year-old whose body was found near Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. [Fairfax County Police Department/WTOP]

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

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

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Wednesday Morning Rundown

Snow Day fun in Reston Feb. 17, 2015/Credit: Charlotte Geary via Facebook

No Real Estate Tax Increase — Fairfax County Executive Edward L. Long presented his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget, including the Multi-Year FY 2016-2017 Budget Plan to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. He proposed a General Fund budget of $3.8 billion for FY 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016), an increase of 2.61 percent over the FY 2015 Adopted Budget Plan. Long recommended no Real Estate Tax increase in his proposed  Budget. [Fairfax County]

Audition for Reston Players — Reston Community Players will hold auditions for Fox on the Fairway, a Ken Ludwig farce in the style of 1930s comedies, on Friday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 22. [Reston Players]

Madison Student Elected To School Board — Ben Press, a junior at Madison High School in Vienna, has been elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council (SAC) to serve a one-year term as student representative to the Fairfax County School Board, beginning July 1. Press will participate in School Board meetings as a nonvoting member, filling the position currently held by Harris LaTeef, a senior at Langley High School.  [FCPS]

Uber, Lyft Now Totally Legal in VA — Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed SB1025 and HB1662, which established licensing procedures for transportation network companies (TNC’s) like Uber and Lyft to legally operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Earlier this year, Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring’s offices worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles and TNC companies to find a compromise that allowed these entities to temporarily operate in Virginia until the General Assembly passed permanent legislation.

Sledding fun in Reston Tuesday/Credit: Charlotte Geary via Facebook

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