Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Fairfax County Executive Anthony H. Griffin presented his proposed Fiscal Year 2008 budget to the Board of Supervisors on Monday. During the next two months, the Board will examine the proposed budget, make changes, and finalize the budget for adoption on April 30. Unlike the federal government, Fairfax County may not run a deficit. By law, Fairfax County’s budget must balance each and every year.

There were few surprises in the County Executive’s presentation. The proposed budget maintains the real estate tax at 89 cents, the historic low that was adopted by the Board last year, while maintaining essential services. Support for public education remains a high priority, with 52.3 percent, or $1.734 billion, of the General Fund recommended for transfer to the school system. Additional county funding was recommended for Head Start and School Age Child Care programs, school nurses and clinic room aides, after-school programming in middle schools, and athletic field maintenance and other recreation programs.

Affordable housing and stormwater funds are continued, with one cent of the real estate tax, or $22.7 million, allocated for each category. Using a similar formula during the past two years has resulted in preserving more than 1300 units of affordable housing in the county, and mitigating environmental issues caused by the erosive effect of storm-water on the quality of our local streams. Public safety and gang prevention initiatives are continued, as is transit funding and awards to non-profit social service agencies through the Consolidated Community Funding Pool.  Fee adjustments include a small proposed increase in sewer rates, reflecting the increased cost of wastewater treatment to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and a small increase for refuse collection in those areas served by county trash service.

There are a number of opportunities for Mason District residents to engage in budget discussions. The budget is available on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov, and copies of the budget are available for review at all Fairfax County Public Library branches and my office. The Mason District Spring Town Meeting about the budget, featuring County Executive Anthony H. Griffin and Chief Financial Officer Edward Long, will be held on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the Belvedere Elementary School Cafeteria, 6540 Columbia Pike in Falls Church. The Board’s public hearings about the budget will begin on the evening of Monday, April 9, and continue on the evenings of April 10 and 11. You may register to speak at the public hearing by calling the Clerk to the Board’s Office at 703-324-3151, or TTY 703-324-2391; or you may sign up to testify on-line by e-mail at clerktothebos@fairfaxcounty.gov. To request special accommodations, call 703-324-2935, Virginia Relay available at 711. Please allow five work days in advance to make necessary arrangements.