Fairfax County Executive Anthony Griffin released his proposed county budget for Fiscal Year 2010 on Monday.
There was a sense of relief that the proposed budget actually was available for discussion now, combined with a sense of dread for that very same discussion. The proposed budget reflects a decrease of 3.7 percent from the FY09 Revised Budget Plan, and recommends an increase in the real estate tax rate that will hold average taxes paid by real property owners relatively flat. Housing values, from which the majority of local revenues are derived through real estate taxes, have declined 12.55 percent overall, and Mr. Griffin recommended a tax rate increase of 12 cents per $100 valuation. The recommended increase also includes a new 1 ½ cent Stormwater Management Service District fee to fund state and federal mandates to improve water quality and address run-off issues, making the total recommended increase 13.5 cents.
Mr. Griffin said the proposed budget “maintains our commitment to quality service while implementing creative ways to deliver services more effectively and efficiently.” His budget funds schools at the same level at last year, and represents 54 percent of total County General Fund disbursements. On the county side, Mr. Griffin proposed reducing county spending by more than $106 million, by eliminating some programs, restructuring others, and reducing hours and service levels at some county facilities, such as libraries. The budget proposal eliminates pay increases for county employees across all agencies; more than 500 positions also would be cut or abolished.
The elimination of some services comes during a global economic downturn that has increased calls for assistance of very basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services Planning office has experienced a steady increase of 500 new families and/or individuals per month who call the Hotline (703/222-0880) for information and assistance. The proposed budget does include $2 million to fill caseworker positions to handle the increased demand for Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which are federally funded programs.
During the next two months, the Board of Supervisors will review the proposed budget, and make changes and adjustments to the recommendations, before adopting the final budget on April 27. Public hearings about the proposed budget will be held on Monday, March 30, beginning at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 1, beginning at 3 p.m. The public hearings will be held in the Board Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. To sign up to speak, please call the Clark to the Board at 703/324-3151, TTY 703/324-3903.
Very few copies of the proposed budget were printed this year, to conserve resources. Reference copies are available at all county libraries, or on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget. The entire budget also is available on CD-ROM. The Mason District Budget Town Meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Baileys Community Center, 5920 Summers Lane, in Falls Church.