Proposed county budget funds schools, holds line on tax rate

Sharon Bulova photoChairman Bulova

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today took gave preliminary approval to the $4.4 billion 2020 fiscal year budget. The proposed budget fully funds the operating budget request from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and holds the real estate tax rate at its present level.

The budget also increases the employee “market rate adjustment” (MRA) to 2.1 percent, supports affordable housing and environmental initiatives, addresses the opioid crisis, and funds the fourth year of Diversion First. The Board of Supervisors will vote to formally adopt the budget on May 7.

“We have made a number of changes,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “The real estate tax rate will stay the same at $1.15 per $100 of assessed value to ensure Fairfax County continues to be an affordable place to live for seniors and families. This budget is responsible and balanced and includes $3.5 million in savings, mainly through operational efficiencies.”

Because of increases in the assessed (market) value of property, the average annual real estate tax bill for homeowners in Fairfax County is projected to rise by $149.16.

For the past number of years, Fairfax County has continued to increase transfers to schools, hoping to maintain competitive teacher salaries. This year, Fairfax County Public Schools will receive $2.35 billion through the School Transfer, which represents 52.8 percent of the County’s General Fund Budget and a 3.82 percent increase ($86.46 million) over FY2019.

The marked-up budget includes funding for two staff positions for the new Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, as well as a Housing Coordinator position for the Department of Housing. As part of Third Quarter Review for FY2019, $5 million will be added to accelerate affordable housing initiatives in Fairfax County. This is in addition to the $10 million already allocated in the FY2020 Advertised Budget.

Looking ahead, the FY2021 budget will pose new challenges, Bulova said in a news release. Considering recommendations from the Affordable Housing Resources Panel, reviewing the results of the Police Body Worn Camera Pilot Program, and tackling energy and environment issues through the Joint Environmental Task Force (The JET) are on the horizon throughout the current fiscal year and for a new Board of Supervisors in 2020, she said.

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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.