Since County Executive Bryan J. Hill presented his proposed FY 2019 budget on February 20, the Board of Supervisors and constituencies from across the county have been reviewing and evaluating the recommendations, including Mr. Hill’s proposed 2.5 cent increase in the tax rate. After nine weeks of deliberations — in budget committee meetings, town halls in every magisterial district, and dozens of meetings with constituents — the Board marked up the budget on Tuesday, with few changes.
Perhaps the most significant change was the decision to reduce the proposed tax increase by a half-cent, so that the effect on most taxpayers’ bills will be slightly less than predicted. When the Board advertised the proposed tax increase at the beginning of March, most of us supported the advertisement, but indicated a desire to get to a lower number in the end. As readers may recall, state law requires that a tax rate be advertised for public hearings; final adoption can be lower than advertised, but cannot go higher than the advertised rate. The county’s budget also must be balanced. We cannot go into debt like the federal government does across the river. Instead of a tax rate of $1.155 per hundred valuation, the new tax rate that will take effect on July 1 will be $1.15.
The new rate allows for full funding of the schools’ transfer request, and a 2.25 Market Rate Adjustment (MRA) for county employees. This is the first time in several years that the compensation plan for county employees is fully funded, a commitment that I, as chairman of the Board’s Personnel Committee, have long advocated. Investing in our people, just as schools must invest in teachers, is important to the well-being of our community. These are the folks – police, fire, caseworkers, building inspectors, wastewater treatment operators, etc. — who provide the services we rely on, day and night. Behind the scenes are many other county employees – human rights investigators, financial auditors, procurement officers, technology experts — who ensure that county systems perform without a hitch or a glitch, meeting the expectations of county residents and the governing body.
One wrinkle this year is that the Commonwealth of Virginia has not adopted its budget, which leaves localities in the dark about already-limited state support of local activities. However, anticipated state revenues should not require any changes to the county’s formal adoption of the budget on May 1. The 8-2 markup vote (Cook and Herrity voting no) likely will not change next Tuesday.
Saturday, April 28, will be a busy day in Mason District. Volunteers for the semi-annual Culmore Cleanup will gather at Woodrow Wilson Library, 6601 Knollwood Drive, at 9 a.m., and fan out in teams to help rid the Culmore/Bailey’s Crossroads area of litter. No signup is needed; wear sturdy shoes and long pants. Gloves and bags will be provided.
You can drop off old, unused, or no longer needed, prescription drugs on Saturday, at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Hours are 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. Shredding services also will be on site, from 8 a.m. — noon, for county residents. Up to four medium size boxes of old financial records and other sensitive documents will be accepted. This is a popular event, so plan to get in line early!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]