The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to make up funding for social services programs threatened by a budget shortfall.
Emergency mental health services, substance abuse treatment, services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and services for young adults with intellectual disabilities are among the services propped up by an influx of funding from the county’s year-end budget surplus for fiscal 2012.
After all of the year-end adjustments, the county ended the past fiscal year with about $40.6 million left over. County Executive Ed Long’s recommendation, which the board approved, was to spend about $25 million of that on county agency needs for fiscal 2013 and keep the rest of the funding in reserve.
The Board of Supervisors also used about $3 million from a reserve set aside in the fiscal 2013 budget for potential state and federal budget reductions to shore up the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB).
The CSB, which provides addiction and mental health treatment and services for people with intellectual disabilities, was facing a $9.5 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2013 because it received less funding than expected from the state and experienced cost increases from greater demand for certain programs.
Earlier this year, the county provided another $3.5 million to the agency, and the remainder of the shortfall will be made up by program reductions. Substance abuse prevention services and a program providing mobile mental health and substance abuse treatment services to homeless people will see the biggest reductions.
In most parts of the state, the state-mandated Community Services Boards are primarily funded by state and federal dollars, but Fairfax County has historically provided much of the support for its CSB.
“I want to emphasize that we’ve gotten here by Fairfax doing the heavy lifting,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill). “Our emphasis has to be that our partners pay bills,” she added, referring to a state-backed program expansions that were not funded.
While other CSB programs that were potentially on the chopping block were spared, supervisors continued to express displeasure at the agency’s budget situation.
“We cannot have this happen again,” said board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At large), reading from her prepared remarks. “Addressing the budget issues now ... will ensure that we can respond very quickly to changing service delivery requirements, reduced revenue collections and increasing fringe benefit costs.”
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said the board needs to be prepared for continued tight budgets and possible program cuts, based on the fiscal forecasts for the next few years.
“I think it’s getting to the point where we will have to decide what doesn’t get done, because we can’t keep cutting the workforce and expecting the same work out of them,” Herrity said.
In addition to the support for the CSB, big ticket items in the carryover package included $9.4 million to cover health and other employee benefits for the county and Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, and about $10 million to continue working on the massive overhaul of the county’s finance and human resources computer systems, as well as other major IT upgrades.
The county has seen higher than expected claims for health insurance and is projecting a 13.4 percent premium increase in January, Long wrote in a memo to the supervisors.
In addition, the county is setting aside $7 million in reserve to cover any potential impacts from federal budget cuts and a $5 million “litigation reserve” to account for potential refunds from real estate tax appeals the county is working through at this time.