Fairfax Board gives budget a final mark-up

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today put a pencil to the upcoming year’s budget for what is likely to be the last time, scheduling a May 1 vote for final adoption. The budget is based on a tax rate of $1.15, a 2-cent increase that will create a tax hike of $241 on the average property tax bill.

“I believe the additional revenue is an important investment needed to shore up the foundation on which our quality of life rests,” Board Chair Sharon Bulova said.

Bulova  said the budget process had been “harmonious” and expressed confidence the final document “hit all of the right notes.” But Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said the proposed budget — together with increases in various fees — would amount to a total increase of 4% for many homeowners.

“Increasing taxes on the average homeowner by 26 percent over the last five years to feed this board’s spending problem is not acceptable,” Herrity said. “While the tax bills continue to grow in Fairfax, wages have not. This board has continued to avoid making the same tough budget decisions that our citizens have had to make when their wages are not increasing. It is clear taxpayers were an afterthought and not the priority in this budget.”

Fully funded

Bulova said the proposed budget “fully funds the school board’s request, bringing teachers’ salaries into competitive alignment with our sister jurisdictions in the region,” with a total increase in education spending of $91.49 million, a 4.22% increase. More than half the county’s budget — 52.8% — goes to schools.

The budget also:

  • Includes a 2.25% “market rate adjustment” for county employees;
  • Includes funding for Fairfax First, Gang Prevention, the expansion of Diversion First and Opportunity Neighborhoods, additional slots for early childhood programs, and funding to address the opioid crisis;
  • Provides an increase in funding for Metro (pending a long-term solution), VRE and the Connector bus system.

Herrity said more needs to be done to hold the line on taxes in future budgets.

“Three years ago the board voted itself a 27% raise over my objection. Just over a year ago our taxpayers sent a message they had been taxed enough — soundly defeating the meals tax. Over the last three years, numerous opportunities to review and reduce spending have been identified – from the Lines of Business Review to firefighters bringing in six figures of overtime pay alone — with little follow up and action,” he said in an email to FairfaxNews.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.