Watching the machinations of transition at the federal level sometimes can make one forget that providing services the public needs and demands predominantly is the responsibility of local government, not the federal government. Revenue that pays for local services comes from local sources – real estate taxes, personal property taxes, and local taxes (e.g., sales tax, business license taxes). Those accounted for more than 92 percent of Fairfax County revenues in FY 2017. Just 2.8 percent of the county’s overall budget is attributable to allocations and grants from the federal government. Regardless of what happens in the presidential transition and the new Congress, our local services – schools, police and fire, human services, housing, land use and zoning, etc. – must go on. As we head into discussions about the FY18 county budget, exercising prudence and maintaining stability will be of paramount importance.
At a recent joint Board of Supervisors-School Board budget session, county executive Edward L. Long, Jr. cautioned that the real estate revenue estimate is down $43 million in November, as home prices essentially are flat, even though the number of homes sold increased by 4.9 percent year-to-date through October. Office vacancy rates remain at historically elevated levels, even as job opportunities are increasing. At present, there is a significant gap, or projected deficit, of $55 million for funding the FY18 budget. Since, under state law, Fairfax County cannot run a deficit, the County Executive and the Board of Supervisors may have to make some painful adjustments to ensure adoption of a balanced budget in the spring. Mr. Long’s proposed budget will be released in mid-to-late February, with public hearings scheduled for April 4, 5 and 6. By then, we may have a clearer picture of the direction of the Trump Administration and Congress, but the work of providing services and making our communities thrive still will be done, and done well, by our local governments.
Another service provided by local government is recycling, including electronics recycling. Many families will enjoy new electronic gifts during the holiday season, but wonder what to do with their old television or computer monitor. If it contains a Cathode Ray Tube, or CRT, it must be recycled. Typical CRTs contain four to eight pounds of lead. Fairfax County residents can safely recycle equipment containing CRTs at the drop-off locations at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill. For more information about electronic waste accepted at county facilities, and directions, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/mat-comp.htm.
The 22nd Annual Mason District Holiday Town Gathering will be held on Monday, December 12, at 7 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. This annual kick-off to the holiday season will feature musical entertainment, refreshments, door prizes, and my annual State of Mason District review. The Holiday Town Gathering is open to the public, and suitable for children. I look forward to seeing you on Monday night.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.