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Discussion Title Proposed FY 2014 Budget Discussion with the County Executive

County Executive Ed Long will discuss his proposed FY 2014 budget on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 9:30 a.m.


Edward Long : Good morning and thank you for joining me. I presented my proposed budget to the Board on Tuesday, and I am looking forward to beginning the dialogue.


Sharlene Sawyer : II am currently a Center Supervisor with SACC I would like to know what will be the impact for current vested SACC employees. Also, in line with the STRIVE initiative and the focus on limited employee turnover are there any programs being implemented to improve professional mobility from and to various agencies?

Edward Long :

Thanks to the creative work of Department of Family Services staff and those in the SACC program, we are looking at how to provide the SACC program in a more efficient and effective manner, while still maintaining its high quality. The reengineering efforts of staff are greatly appreciated; this is exactly the kind of creative thinking we are encouraging.

This effort will be enacted through attrition, and not by impacting current employees. As a result, I anticipate that this conversion will take three years to fully implement.

As part of STRIVE, we will be looking for ways to facilitate opportunities for employees who desire to move throughout the county.


Anonymous User : What effect does the proposed budget have on FX-FC CSB programs?

Edward Long : The proposed FY 2014 budget continues the programatic efforts, approved by the Board at this past carryover. The proposed Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board budget also includes full funding for the graduates of the Intellectual Disability program and the Infant-Toddler Connection program, which provides services for children with developmental challenges.


L.F. Helm : Real estate re-assessments are being mailed out at this time. But, as before, the valuation basis remains opaque. Only the general procedure/basis is described. Why can't the Department Of Tax Administration list the actual basis for its value calculation: the actual comparative properties sold and/or on-scene property observations/inspections? It would be a considerable "confidence in local government" booster.

Edward Long : I would refer you to the county's website, particularly the Real Estate Assessment page. This page does list comparables and other information for every residential property that was used to determine your assessment. Go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta to learn more. On this page, you will also find a video available that will help you better understand your assessment.


jeff : Is there discussion about utilizing furlough days to save money and not lose positions/programs, I know that would be my preference, thx

Edward Long : At this time, there is no intent to utlize furloughs. These would only be implemented in an emergency budget situation to close a short-term funding shortfall.


Laurie : What is the actual dollar change between last year's and this year's budget? What is the percentage change between the two?

Edward Long : The FY 2014 budget proposal recommends General Fund Disbursements of $3.589 billion, which is an increase of $51 million, or 1.45% over the FY 2013 adopted budget. Of this increase, 80% is allocated towards Fairfax County Public Schools. The remaining balance is primarily to support public safety and human services for our residents. Please note that the advertised budget is simply a proposal. The final budget will be adopted by the Board of Supervisors on April 30, after public hearings earlier in April.


Anonymous User : How do you foresee the sequester affecting the Supervisors' deliberations about the local property tax rate and FY 2014 budget?

Edward Long : Sequestration has had a major impact on how we had to prepare this budget. While the specific impacts of sequestration are currently unknown, we had to accommodate the impact to the best of our ability when putting this budget together. Sequestration is officially supposed to start tomorrow, March 1. It is unlikely that by the time the Board of Supervisors adopts the budget at the end of April, that the full impact of sequestration will be known. We will have to continue monitoring the actions of Congress and adjust our budget accordingly.

We do have a reserve of $8 million included in the budget to begin to address some of the anticipated cuts. We've also adjusted our FY 2015 revenue estimates in an attempt to anticipate some of the impacts of sequestration on our local economy.

Sequestration impacts the county in three major ways. It may reduce direct funding for specific programs in the county. It will impact the local economy, as our businesses and residents are affected by federal furloughs and cuts. Lastly, the sequester's impact on the state will likely trickle down and impact county revenues and services.


BookLover : I am a county resident with no children. I don’t mind paying my taxes for schools and other things I don’t directly use. However, I use the library and visit the parks. How do you justify raising my taxes and cutting the services that I enjoy using?

Edward Long :

Budget is a very difficult challenge that looks at balancing the need for services against the resources we have available. I share your view that libraries and parks are part of the excellent services that Fairfax County provides. Cuts have been necessary in the last several years; however, cuts in parks and libraries have been minimal.

As an example of reengineering, the library system has taken the opportunity to look at changes in how library services are provided. We believe that this will result in future savings in staffing, but also in enhanced service delivery that will meet the changing and growing needs of our residents.


Anonymous User : With property values continuing to rise, why is it necessary to increase property tax rates? I am unequivocally opposed to such an increase.

Edward Long : As I mentioned in the budget, I feel that an investment is necessary to maintain the county's strengths while we go through this difficult period in anticipation of the opportunities that will present themselves in FY 2016 and FY 2017. The bulk of this $.02 increase is necessary to fund the increase in our growing student population.

I've also included over $20 million worth of cuts in the budget, eliminated 91 positions, and will not be providing any pay raises to county employees.

I think this $.02 investment is necessary to prudently carry the county through FY 2014 and FY 2015.


Anonymous User : What impact would the FCPS request to raise the amount of the school bond authority have on the county's credit rating?

Edward Long : The Board of Supervisors Chairman has proposed, and the Board approved, establishing a committee to review future bond sales of both the county and the schools. This committee will include three School Board members and three members of the Board of Supervisors. Future bond sales and limits will be reviewed in conjunction with the county's long-term revenue forecast to determine what can be accommodated with future bond sales while maintaining the county's AAA bond rating. The committee's recommendations will be considered as we develop the FY 2015 Capital Improvement program.


Anonymous User : If federal sequestration takes place after this coming Friday will there be additional cuts (employee positions) outside of what was already outlined for the FY 14 and 15 budget?

Edward Long : I empathize with your concerns. Staff has grappled with these unknowns for many months. However, based on what we know as of today, my budget proposal would not require additional cuts to address sequestration.


Anonymous User : When you spoke with county residents, which services did they seem most and least concerned about cutting?

Edward Long : The common theme has been to protect those most vulnerable in our community and to preserve the high quality of life associated with Fairfax County, including our outstanding school system. In addition to having community engagement sessions and the opportunity to give online input, I also solicited direct feedback from community organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce. These groups affirmed the need to maintain the county's strengths, and not take a budget axe to our core programs.   


Anonymous User : Does the increase transfer amount in Fairfax County School funding include a pay raise for school personnel?

Edward Long : The School Board's request for a 5.7% transfer increase did include a 1% pay increase for school employees. However, my budget proposal recommends only an increase of 2% in the school transfer. Once the Board of Supervisors decides on the transfer level to schools, the School Board will have to determine how to address this lower level of funding.


Anonymous User : I began a full time position in February, 2013. Since I started after January 1, 2013, my retirement age has already been hiked up 5 yrs to a total of 85 yrs of eligibility service. Right now it looks like I am going to be working longer to retire and for less compensation with the salary freezes...so, what is your plan to retain new hires if they have to wait 2+ years for traditionally annual salary increases and are also now forced to work longer for retirement?

Edward Long : I am very concerned about how we compensate our employees, and I want to make sure that we are competitive with other jurisdictions and are treating our employees fairly. Our compensation package includes wages, retirement benefits and health benefits.

It is a challenging time for county employees, as well as for those who do not work with the county. With limited resources, I am committed to maintaining a competitve and fair package for employees. I should note that this problem is not unique to Fairfax County; all of our sister jurisdictions are grappling with compensation issues.


Anonymous User : Has there been any return on investment analysis of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority?

Edward Long : Our Economic Development Authority is constantly working to promote the county as a great place for business. Recently, EDA announced the relocation of a major IT corporate headquarters (Intelsat) and its 430 employees to the county. The EDA also issues the number of new jobs that they have assisted in attracting to the county each month. Growth of our non-residential tax base is essential to our long-term financial health. Funding of the EDA is an investment that we must continue to make.


insurance : Health Insurance... Since you are increasing it again on us, why not encourage employees to use their spouses insurance and pay a monthly stipen to the employee for using alternative insurance? Employee would have to show proof of insurance to get the stipen. I think it would be cheaper to pay an employee rough guestamation $50 to 200$ a month vs health insurance benefits. Another year w/o a real pay increase and continue increase in our benefits is really taking a toll on us financially and emotionally .

Edward Long : This option has been looked at in the past, and we can continue to consider it as we review the health care plan design for calendar year 2014.


Anonymous User : If and when the Federal Government resolves "sequestration", will the board and county exec revise the budget if there is time?

Edward Long : Once the impacts of sequestration are known, if budget adjustments are required I will recommend appropriate adjustments to the Board for consideration. It will be difficult to anticipate the long-term impacts on the county's economy.


Tysons Engineer : Executive Long, What effect will the transportation bill have for 2014 transportation expenditures, and has this been incorporated in your analysis?

Edward Long : The transportation bill recently passed by the General Assembly and awaiting signature by the Governor would have a positive impact on funds available to address transportation projects in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. Our budget was put together prior to this proposal by the state. Over the next few weeks, staff will review the details and make budget adjustments, if necessary.


Anonymous User : Would the Supervisors consider asking its Independent Auditor to "follow the money" that is transferred to FCPS, since the so-called School Board Auditor is hired and fired by the Superintendent?

Edward Long : The Board of Supervisors and the Audit Committee direct the activities of the county's Auditor to the Board. If the Supervisors should desire a review of schools, or any other county activity, they will direct the auditor to do so.

However, it should be noted that we have an elected School Board who are in office specifically to decide how school funding should be allocated.


Anonymous User : As a long term county employee, I have rolled with the punches. I've been through many years of no pay raises and it will have a lasting affect on my pension. Many retirment eligible employees are now deciding to retire because there is no pay raise in sight. How do you expect to retain good employees when they are not being compensated appropriately? How do we attract new, highly qualified employees when we can't offer them adequate compensation?

Edward Long : One of the components of the new STRIVE initiative is to resume the annual market survey process to ensure that our salaries remain competitive with other local jurisdictions. As another long-term county employee, I can tell you how impressed I am with my fellow Fairfax County employees. I have had the occasion, during my 35 years here, to work with many amazing people, and I continue to be impressed by their passion for public service.


Edward Long : Thank you for your questions. No budget process is ever easy, and there are always many difficult issues to address. However, as always, we will work through this and the Board of Supervisors will adopt a budget plan that addresses the priorities of the community. Please continue to participate in future discussions and scheduled meetings. For a listing of these opportunities, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget. I also encourage you to view the budget documents, which are also online at the address above. Thanks.

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