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Transcript from Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova during the April 22, 2014, budget markup session.
Every budget has its own “personality.” When thinking about a name for difficult Fiscal Year 2015, the mournful Beatles song The Long and Winding Road comes to mind.
It has indeed been a long and winding road as our nation, region, and County have struggled throughout these sluggish post-recession years. The good news this year is that real estate values are beginning to rebound. The bad news is that only residential values are rising; business taxes are flat and commercial assessments are a 0.1% decrease from Fiscal Year 2014.
Combine this with an increase in our Fairfax County Public School student population; increased needs for human services; and stressed-out County employees who have endured pretty much stagnant compensation for the past five years, and we end up with a pretty challenging budget brew.
The Mark-up Package that I am about to move is the result of much hard work by my colleagues, our County staff and our Fairfax County community. It is not a “great news” package, but I think that it is responsible and responsive to the needs of our community and to the uncertain fiscal climate we are operating in. It also includes several items that are meant to help stimulate recovery in the County’s commercial sector.
This package increases the tax rate from $1.085 to $1.090, a relatively modest ½ cent. It represents a $25 annual increase in the average residential taxpayer’s bill. This would be on top of a $332 average increase resulting from rising assessment values.
This additional revenue ($10.9 million) combined with $6 million in savings achieved on the General County side of the budget is used to increase the School Transfer by $17 million, from 2% in the Advertised Budget to 3%.
With this added percent the total increase in the School Transfer will be $51.5 million. An expected increase in State funding of approximately $30 million will help to fund additional School requirements.
An additional $10.5 million in savings/reductions are taken from the General County side of the Advertised Budget and reallocated to increase compensation for employees. In this package the advertised Market Rate Adjustment of 1.29% is combined with an additional 1% for general County employees.
Step increases for Public Safety employees will resume for everyone who is eligible (on their anniversary date) at the beginning of the Fiscal Year on July 1st.
This package is not balanced by drawing down one-time reserves, thus avoiding the creation of a structural imbalance that would make it more difficult to meet our fiscal needs in future years.