While Congress was feuding about the FY 2011 federal budget, narrowly averting a last minute shutdown, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was quietly putting the finishing touches on the county’s FY 2012 budget. Since County Executive Tony Griffin presented his proposed budget in late February, the Board carefully examined the budget, held three budget committee meetings, a number of town meetings, and heard three nights of testimony from the public. Highlighted by nearly every speaker was a desire to maintain services, especially for the neediest of our residents, and preserve the county’s celebrated quality of life.
The amended budget, which was marked up on Tuesday in preparation for formal adoption on April 26, reduces the real property tax rate from $1.09 to $1.07, which means that tax bills will remain nearly flat during the coming year. The budget also includes $1.5 million for the Fire and Rescue Department for Advanced Life Support training, necessary to provide adequate levels of certified personnel to meet minimum staffing requirements. Funding also is included high school graduates with Intellectual Disabilities students as well as Medical Detoxification and Diversion to Detox programs. Those three programs were priorities for our Community Services Board. The budget provides seed money for the school system to begin to implement Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) in the remaining elementary schools without it, but Chairman Sharon Bulova pointed out that full implementation will require reprioritization by the school system. More than 53 percent, or $1.61 billion, of county revenue is transferred to school operations. The transfer to schools remains flat for a second year.
By state law, Fairfax County’s budget must be balanced, and it must be adopted by May 1 of each year, to allow schools to address their staffing needs for the next school year. Unlike Congress, localities cannot put off the hard decisions in the current budget year. Counties must continue to provide services for local taxpayers; we cannot simply shut down local government. The county’s FY 2012 budget becomes effective on July 1, 2011.
Each year, members of the Board of Supervisors are asked by Volunteer Fairfax to nominate a Community Champion to be honored at the annual Volunteer Brunch. This year I selected Karey Starnes, president of the Bailey’s Crossroads Rotary Club, as the Mason District Community Champion. Karey has an unbelievable amount of energy, which she brings to numerous activities in the Bailey’s Crossroads community. Garnering support for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship program at J.E.B. Stuart High School, commanding the ever-popular annual Mustang raffle, providing atlases and dictionaries for school children, and doing it all with a smile, are just a few of the community focused activities Karey undertakes. Other favorite programs include the Culmore Clean Up (this year on April 30), Support on Suspension to keep kids in school, and the ACCA Food Pantry. If a task needs doing, Karey is sure to be the first to step up and she brings the Rotary Club with her! Congratulations, Karey, and thank you from a grateful community. Keep up the good work!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]