Full Conversation Requires Money on the Table in Fairfax County

Board intends to keep options open by advertising tax increase.

Sharon Bulova indicated that the Board of Supervisors will advertise the tax rate March 6 with the full 2.5-cent increase proposed in County Executive Bryan Hill’s budget.

“That’s not to say that’s what we will end up with,” she said during a joint budget meeting with the Board of Supervisors and School Board on Feb. 27. School Superintendent Scott Brabrand also attended.

Hill’s proposed budget would fully fund the school’s budget request, fully fund compensation increases for county employees, and many county priorities.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay heads the supervisors’ budget committee. “I think we need to make sure we are able to have a full conversation with our community about the budget that’s on the table and knowing that the budget funds our highest priorities, but the only way to do that is to implement a tax increase,” he said.

Bulova said she understands the impact the tax rate would have. “We are concerned about that,” she said.

“When we advertise the tax rate, that will become the ceiling for what the tax rate can be. It can be lower, it can be the same, but it cannot be higher than what we advertise on March 6,” said Bulova.

The board will officially adopt the FY2019 budget on May 1 after a series of community meetings and public hearings on the $4.29-billion budget.

If the Board of Supervisors were to adopt the full 2.5 cent tax rate increase, it would amount to an additional $268 on the average homeowner’s annual tax bill.

Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith said she fears talking about an average increase when all homeowners will have different property bills and property assessments. “When talking about averages, I also think it’s useful to talk about medians,” she said.

Hill came on board as county executive on Jan. 2, 2018.

“We cannot sustain what we are doing. In my view, this is a one year deal that allows us to have a five year strategic look forward,” he said.

”It is key that we become a prioritized county so we can effectuate the change that we need to go forward.”

The budget would transfer $2.26 billion to the school system, 52 percent of the total. Funding the school’s proposed budget would bring teacher salaries closer to market rates, said Brabrand.

“Every year we wait is a year teachers can make a choice to go elsewhere,” said Brabrand.

See www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget for more.

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