Balancing the county budget while maintaining county services will continue to be the biggest challenge facing county leaders, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D) said Wednesday during a presentation of her annual “State of the County” video.
“We are still struggling from the impact of the Great Recession and what has continued to be a slow and tepid recovery,” Bulova said in the video.
However, she said, she believes the community will still be able to strike the right balance between the real estate tax rate and delivering services.
Regarding the Fairfax County School Board’s request for a 5.7 percent increase in county funds, Bulova made it clear to reporters that the schools are not likely to get that level of funding, due to the other constraints on the budget. However, she said, “we will meet the needs of the schools.”
County Executive Ed Long won’t release his proposed budget until late February, but the county has been planning on a 2 percent increase in schools funding. Anything above that will be dependent on the public feedback portion of the budget, Bulova said.
“Every year is a struggle and every year is a little bit different,” Bulova said. “In the end, Fairfax County has always managed to strike the right balance.”
Aside from the budget challenges, Bulova’s presentation largely focuses on the positive, highlighting revitalization efforts and transportation projects throughout the county and touting Fairfax’s comparatively low 5 percent unemployment rate, strong school system and low crime rate.
The coming year will also be an important one for tourism, Bulova said, as the county gears up to host the World Police and Fire Games in the summer of 2015.
The county is reaching out to potential sponsors to help defray the costs of hosting the games and will begin recruiting volunteers to help cover the tens of millions of dollars it will cost to host the event.
“The games will give us an opportunity to showcase our impressive public safety capabilities and to spotlight Fairfax County as an exciting and vibrant tourist destination,” Bulova said.
The event is expected to generate more than $100 million in revenue, she said.