Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved a markup package for the FY 2024 budget on Tuesday.
“Thank you to everyone who took the time to have your voices heard,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “This budget recognizes the impacts of inflation on our residents and our ability to recruit and retain employees. I am proud of how we have invested in the core county services our residents rely on.”
The markup package includes increased compensation for county employees, as well as additional funding for parks and health and human services.
The Board voted nine to one to fully fund 5.44 percent of the market rate adjustment, which will result in an average pay increase of 7.5 percent for general county employees, and 7.83 percent for all uniformed police employees. This comes after unions such as SEIU Virginia 512 and Fairfax Workers Coalition called for the board to fully fund the MRA.
Health and human services will receive $500,000 to increase support for hotlines for residents fleeing domestic and sexual violence, as well as stalking and human trafficking.
While the budget did include a 1.5-cent reduction in the tax rate, taxes are still set to increase by 5.7 percent due to rising assessments.
“The Board is pushing a false narrative that we can’t address our workforce issues and meaningfully reduce the tax burden on our residents,” said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity. “My alternative budget shows that we can do both with reasonable and necessary spending reductions in a budget that has grown over 50 percent in the last 10 years.”
Herrity proposed an alternative budget at a pre-mark-up meeting on April 28. This would have included a five-cent reduction in the tax rate, deferring spending on housing, and a $100 million reduction in the transfer to Fairfax County Public Schools.
“Because of these unexplained projected increases in budget accounts, the growth in administrative positions, without an explanation, I took what I consider to be a very reasonable reduction in the school transfer of a hundred million,” said Herrity in the April 28 meeting.
While the Board was able to balance the budget for FY 2024, the outlook for FY 2025 seems bleak.
“Next year is shaping up, as we know, to be a difficult budget year,” said McKay. “The county executive is directed to build his FY 2025 proposal by focusing on the needs of each organization, which are expected to continue to include a focus on employee compensation while balancing spending with maintaining affordability for taxpayers on the state budget.”
McKay also called on the board to act on what he referred to as “an unprecedented mental health crisis among children and adolescents.”
“We know nationwide and here in Fairfax, the rates of childhood mental health issues have been steadily rising over the past decade,” said McKay. “However, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges.”
Budget guidance for FY 2025 will direct the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to develop recommendations for a more robust mental health system. These will be based on recommendations developed last year by the Roundtable on Youth Mental Health and Substance Use.
The Board will vote to adopt the budget on May 9. This will be the final action by the Board to finish the FY 2024 budget.
The mental health crisis is really a spiritual crisis. Supervisor McKay led the board to unconditionally shut down churches during the pandemic when they were vital. No amount of mental health counseling will ever take the place of a strong Biblical church presence. Things are only going to get worse.
If you can't get spiritual without going into a church building, it's a personal problem.
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