The County Executive released his budget on February 25; on March 4, the Board of Supervisors in a bipartisan vote agreed to advertise a property tax cap of two cents. It’s a challenge to fund our residents’ needs, especially with growing federal and state service cuts so I reluctantly supported this. I don’t want to tie our hands by not providing flexibility to fund critical County services. (While the two-cents is the highest that the tax rate can go, the Board can adopt a lower increase.)
Education is our Board’s priority and the school transfer will be about 52 percent of the General Fund. We also fund school resource officers, crossing guards, school health aides and nurses, SACC, and FCPS’ debt service and dedicate two thirds of our bonding capacity to the schools.
The Board of Supervisors is legally required to adopt a balanced budget and there’s no getting around our economic circumstances. Many businesses and households have been affected by the federal Fiscal Cliff, Sequestration, the federal government shutdown, and the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Federal and state funding cuts have affected County services and to balance our County budget, we’ve reduced funding to human services, public safety, parks, libraries, and employee compensation.
We’re expected to assume costs beyond our residents’ ability to pay and we’re burdening our taxpayers—who through real estate and personal property taxes fund close to 80 percent of our General Fund. It’s good that our housing market is recovering and that in comparison to other areas of the state, we’re financially healthy. It’s not good that Fairfax County gets back only 19 cents on every dollar that it sends to Richmond. It’s not that we don’t pay enough taxes; it’s that we don’t keep them in Northern Virginia. We’re 27 percent of the state’s population, generate 40 percent of the state’s General Fund and get back only 21 percent.
Please let me know what’s important to you. You’ll find detailed budget information at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/. To testify at a budget public hearing, contact the Office of the Clerk to the Board at 703-324-3151 or online at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speaker_bos.htm. Public hearings are in the board auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center on April 8, 9, and 10.