Dear Chairwoman Bulova:
I have been proud to support and vote for you. My question is, why are we spending so much money on Transportation which is duly needed; when you have rejected to allow the Brain Foundation to be Grandfathered in as a 501C. Fairfax residents are saving so much money to spend on much needed transportation and yet we are turning our backs on the Brain Foundation. As a mental health counselor, Fairfax County needs MORE of these homes to care for those in great mental health need, rather than stay homeless or institutionalized when they need to be integrated into a caring and compassionate home setting.
Will you allow the Brain Foundation to be Grandfathered in as a 501C organization rather than continue to tax them, when Fairfax County is already saving thousands of dollars and not caring for our neighbors?
The new funding we have been discussing for Transportation was approved by the General Assembly and can only be used for transportation. If it is used for something else, the funding is taken away.
I am very supportive of the Brain Foundation and think they do great work. I appreciate your advocacy of their behalf. As I hope you know, I am a strong proponent for fostering the strong partnerships Fairfax County has established with our non-profit community. During the mid ‘90s, as Chairman of the Board’s Budget Committee I helped to establish the successful Community Funding Pool which provides funding to non-profits (including the Brain Foundation) that work in partnership with Fairfax County to serve our community. I have also been an outspoken advocate for making sure that affordable housing is available to Fairfax County residents and workers – especially those who are struggling with disabilities, such as brain injuries.
Almost a decade ago, the Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium on new tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations. At the time (the Recession of the 90’s) we were facing a decline in tax revenues. The Board was also finding it difficult to draw the line among non-profits requesting tax relief. The revenue loss exacerbated our ability to meet the mounting human services needs in our community.
We have many great organizations in Fairfax County that also provide a significant value to our community. Many of these worthy organizations would also be candidates for an exemption. It would be very difficult and unfair to only offer it to a single organization without considering others.
Fairfax County’s affordable housing programs utilize several policy tools and funding streams to address the spectrum of housing needs in our community. The Board’s plan is detailed in our fully funded Housing Blueprint <http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/rha/housingblueprint.htm> .
The non-profit sector is a critical part of meeting the housing and human service needs we face and the County actively partners with non-profits to achieve these goals. We support affordable housing through grants like the Bridging Affordability Program and the Consolidated Community Funding Pool. We also form partnerships to leverage funding streams like the Housing Choice Voucher Program and contract with non-profits for their expertise in services like shelter management, day services and substance abuse treatment. This array of programs relies on the real estate tax for support.
Today’s economic circumstances are even more unsettled than they were when the Board originally imposed the moratorium. Federal sequestration will result in furloughs and reduced income for local residents employed by the federal government. The uncertainty it has created has already resulted in less tax revenue from our commercial tax base. Lastly, the County is facing reduced federal government support for a wide range of services, including affordable housing vouchers, SNAP and other critical services while the demand for these services remains high in the community. Local government is left struggling to address the gaps left by mandated federal cuts.
I appreciate your writing and giving me the opportunity to respond. I hope the background and explanation is helpful. Thanks also for your interest and advocacy for affordable housing and for persons with disabilities.