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Discussion Title FY 2013 Proposed Budget

Join County Executive Anthony Griffin for a discussion of his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 2 p.m.


Anthony Griffin : Good afternoon, this is Tony Griffin, county executive for Fairfax County. I look forward to your questions on the FY 2013 Budget.


Anonymous User : Is there a raise proposed for the employees?

Anthony Griffin : My proposed budget includes a 2.18% Market Rate Adjustment for employees.


Anonymous User : Will there ever be a cap on the school budget? For example, the schools need to stay within 50% of the entire county budget? Will the adult education program continue to receive funding from another source if the school system cuts the budget for this program?

Anthony Griffin : The county supports the Fairfax County Public Schools with transfers for operations and debt service that total approximately 52.5% of total County disbursements.  There is no cap on the amount of County funding for the schools but the percent of the County budget which goes to schools has remained consistent over the past many years.   Much of the Adult Continuing Education program is already supported by fees and there is some federal and state aid as well.  FCPS is reviewing the Adult Continuing Education program for possible adjustment including elimination of programs that are duplicated by the Park Authority and streamlining programs to align expenses with available resources.


Anonymous User : Is the county doing away with the pay-for-performance system and instead moving towards a system of annual COLAs only?

Anthony Griffin : While it may seem that way, the plan is to try to get back to normal compensation.


Anonymous User : Given the current state of the local economy and the outlook for future fiscal years, when can employees expect to see their STEP increments return?

Anthony Griffin : In my budget message, I indicated that one of the key elements I want to focus on as we look ahead for the next several years is that revenue growth will be below levels needed to support the annual growth in projected expenditures for maintaining basic services and annual compensation increases.  Consequently, it will be necessary in future budgets to continue assessing and reassessing what we fund and how we fund it in order to continue maintaining the fine line between providing high quality services and an affordable tax burden. The moderate revenue growth projected for FY 2013 affords the ability to begin to address compensation increases for our employees who until very recently had gone two years without any increases. The backbone of our organization has been, and continues to be, our workforce which absorbed increased workloads and achieved increased efficiencies with fewer resources amidst competing demands and increased community expectations and needs during this economic downturn.  We have managed to weather this storm with hard work, commitment, ingenuity and creativity by also managing our position vacancies.  I am grateful that we can start recognizing this effort in FY 2013 with a 2.18 percent market rate adjustment (MRA) and by maintaining our commitment to our retirement and health benefit packages.  This is the first step in reintroducing a more complete compensation package each year but it is important to note that given the future revenue projections I just mentioned, I do not anticipate that a full package will be affordable without either further reductions or additional revenue in the near term.


Anonymous User : Your proposed budget indicates a 10% increase in health care. That means in 10 years the costs could be double. Do you have any plans on reversing this trend?

Anthony Griffin : The trend is beyond the control of Fairfax County, it is a national problem.


Bikecommuter : Two years ago the operating funds were cut from the Bicycle Program. It's not possible for the county to have an effective program without operating funds. More and more people are choosing to use bicycles for transportation, especially as the price of gas hovers around $4/gallon. Were the Bicycle Program operating funds reinstated this year and if not, why not?

Anthony Griffin : No, we have not had the capacity in our budget to fund the restoration of previously cut programs and services.


Dave Webster : If Phase 2 of the Silver Line is approved by the Board of Supervisors does your budget have to undergo a restructuring? There are no Phase 2 costs built in to your presentation at this time.

Anthony Griffin : There are no additional Phase 2 costs required for FY 2013 for the County. In FY 2016, I expect that transportation funding will have to be increased in anticipation of passenger service in FY 2018. We have already anticipated the capital requirements for Phase 2.


Anonymous User : You've proposed a 2.18% MRA for employees. Is it proposed for July 1, or a later date during the fiscal year?

Anthony Griffin : The increase is proposed for the first full pay period in July.


Occupy Fairfax : Health care costs are sky rocketing for county employees. Why doesn't the county contribute more toward retiree's health insurance? The county seems to have money for more and more social programs and lavish accommodations for affordable housing.

Anthony Griffin : Currently, the County provides monthly subsidy payments to eligible retirees to help pay for health insurance.  The subsidies range from $30 to $220 depending on years of service. The cost of this program is approximately $7.6 million.  In addition, the County is required to fund an annual payment to cover the actuarial accrued liability of this benefit as required for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).  The annual required contribution for this liability is nearly $40 million.  An increase in the monthly retiree health insurance subsidy would require an increase in this long term liability payment and is not possible at this time.


Anonymous User : How many positions slated to be cut have incumbent women in them? It seems like your female dominant agencies, in addition to having underpaid staff (try comparing S grades of librarians who are required to have a masters degree with any male dominant agency classifications) and tell me the county no longer discriminates by sex. What percentage of half time positions are held by females as opposed to males? Does the county really save money with half time positions as opposed to full time?

Anthony Griffin : I do not have the detailed answers to your questions available but it is important to note that we will be finding placements for current employees whose positions are cut as part of this budget, regardless of whether they are male or female.


Anonymous User : Can you tell us what the budget is for the office for Children?

Anthony Griffin : The proposed budget provides detailed information about the services provided by the Office for Children and the recommended funding level. The Office for Children is within the Department of Family Services and can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2013/advertised/volume1/00167.pdf


Anonymous User : When will the BOS adopt the maximum tax rate for 2013?

Anthony Griffin : The Board will adopt the tax rate on May 1, 2012. The tax rate for FY 2013 will be advertised at their meeting on March 6, 2012. The adopted rate can be lower than the rate they advertise but can be no higher.


Anonymous User : What is the financial future for Northern Virginia? Should nonprofits be worried at this point?

Anthony Griffin : The financial future for Northern Virginia is positive. This is a challenging time for nonprofits, however, if the nonprofits stick to the fundamental they should be fine in the long run. The relationship between the county and our nonprofit partners is critical to the quality of life in our community.


Michael Smith : Why should government/county employees receive a pay increase at a time when private sector employees are struggling to have jobs at all, never mind pay increases? Government employees have unmatched job security and benefits. This low risk career choice should come with relatively low reward by comparison. Many in the private sector received similar pay increases (many even less) this year and their jobs could evaporate tomorrow. Everyone is doing more with less. County employees should be doing likewise, sharing that pain.

Anthony Griffin : Compensation systems for public and private sectors are different because the incentives are different. In the public sector, compensation increases are fixed whether we are in good times or not. Often when times are bad, public employees do not receive anticipated compensation, but when times are good they do not receive additional compensation. Additionally, the work load in the public sector increases relative to the downturn in the economy, as we respond to more of our residents who need basic services, whereas in the private sector pay and jobs are impacted by a reduction in demand for product. For example, the workload in the Department of Family Services has increased anywhere from 30 to 100 percent depending on the program they deliver.  I would like to point out that if this proposed budget is approved, county employees will have averaged a 1 percent increase in pay in the last four years.


Elizabeth Huebner : Why is the park service expected to provide 60% of its budget? I believe this is a quality of life question for this county and view parks to be as important as libraries to citizens' quality of life. In this era of unemployment and low wages and obesity I believe it is important to provide citizens with appropriate outlets which parks can go a long way toward ensuring. However, fees can hinder those most in need of what parks can provide and keep them away. Please re-examine this expectation,

Anthony Griffin : I agree that Parks are an important element of our overall quality of life. We use multiple funding sources to maximize the availability of Park activities as we balance resources across all county programs and services. For example, the General Fund supports some camps, trips and tours, lakefront park operations and resource management sites and programs. The General Fund also pays for the policy, communication and leadership activities of the Director’s Office, the requirements of the Public Information Office, and funds administrative costs for purchasing, accounting, budgeting, and payroll and risk management procedural compliance.   On the other hand user fees and charges generated at the Authority’s revenue supported facilities and is supplemented by donations and grants. Revenue generating facilities include recreation centers, golf courses, lake parks, nature centers, historic sites and various other major parks.  As a result we have a Park Authority which oversees operation and management of a County park system with approximately 23,000 acres, 418 parks, nine recreation centers, eight golf courses, an ice skating rink, 220 playgrounds, 668 public gardens, five nature centers, an equestrian center, 505 Fairfax County Public School owned athletic fields, 274 Park Authority owned athletic fields, 10 historic sites, two waterparks, a horticultural center, and more than 300 miles of trails.  The Authority has balanced the dual roles of providing recreational and fitness opportunities to citizens and serving as stewards and interpreters of Fairfax County’s natural and cultural resources.


Hard Working over 20 Years : Will the DROP Program remain totally intact during the upcoming budget year?

Anthony Griffin : There are no proposals to adjust DROP for the upcoming budget year.


student : Is the police cadet program apart of the budget reduction? Will the program be available after July 1, 2012?

Anthony Griffin : It is proposed that the cadet program be eliminated as part of the FY 2013 budget.


Anonymous User : Why the hiring of 34 new positions and laying off of 36 county employees. I do not understand this and what positions are the 36 coming from that are going to lose their jobs?

Anthony Griffin : The additions and deletions reflect changing priorities. It is not anticipated that anyone in a job to be eliminated will lose county employment.


Anonymous User : When will you announce the failure of FOCUS?

Anthony Griffin : FOCUS is working. Phase 1 has been implemented and we're making strides to learn the new software. Phases 2 and 3 will be implemented as planned. The implementation of FOCUS has been challenging, however, if we did not move to a new corporate HR/finance/budget/purchasing system, the county risked failure of the legacy systems due to age and an inability to support them. The primary challenge of the FOCUS system relates to changing business practices rather than customizing the software. I appreciate all the hard work of the county and schools employees who have worked on the system and the patience of our vendors.


Anonymous User : where am i able to locate a list of all county positions that are recommended for abolishment in the FY 2013 budget?

Anthony Griffin : Information about all of my recommended reductions in County agencies and positions proposed for elimination is included in the narrative section of each agency in the budget.  You can find this information at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2013/advertised/budget_narratives.htm.


Anthony Griffin : Thank you very much for your questions and interest in the county budget. Unfortunately, there is not enough time for all the questions that were submitted. You can view all budget documents at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget.

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