County Executive’s Proposed Budget Cuts Spending, Increases Taxes
Last week, County Executive Anthony Griffin released his proposed County
Budget for FY 2011, which begins July 1, 2010. County revenue is
projected to drop six percent due to falling residential and commercial
real estate values and decreasing sales tax and deed recordation
revenues. Along with some spending requirements to address the
sustainability of our retirement systems and our fiduciary
responsibilities, these reductions result in a $257 million shortfall. To
close this gap, Mr. Griffin proposed a number of measures:
•The property tax rate would increase from $1.04 to $1.09. The average household would see a slight drop in tax payments from this change, as the average home has decreased in value about 5 percent.
•The stormwater tax rate would increase from $0.01 to $0.015.
•Seperate from, but related to the budget, SewerService Charges would be raised from $4.50 to $5.27 per 1,000 gallons, and Water Fees would increase from $50.97 to $52.62 per quarter.
•A new vehicle registration fee of $33 per vehicle would be implemented
•Significant spending cuts: Fairfax County Public Schools (-$16.3 million), Police (-$11.6 million), Fire (-$10.7 million), Community Services Board, which provides services to the mentally ill and intellectually disabled (-$5.2 million), Park Authority (-$2.4 million) and Libraries (-$3.4 million).
Taken together, the County Executive’s proposal, and related water and sewer fees, would increase taxes on the average homeowner by about $95. Some taxpayers would pay even more. For example, while the average home value will drop 5 percent this year, homes in Kings Park, Canterbury Woods and Stonehaven and other neighborhoods remain unchanged, so the average home in those communities would see an increase of almost $300 in addition to the car fee. Houses assesed above the county average of $432,000 would see a greater increase.
The County Executive’s proposed budget is just that – a proposal. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the actual budget in April. Between now and then, I am interested in hearing your views. You may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write the office. I will also hold four Budget Town Halls to gather your input.
From 2000 to 2007, property tax payments doubled as home values skyrocketed. Since 2007 home values have fallen by about a quarter, but property tax payments remain at their peak. The demand for county services and the needs they address are up, but our ability to pay for them is down.
This situation will be difficult for several years, and addressing it means making tough choices. I believe that the top priorities of local government should be police, fire, schools, infrastructure and helping those most in need. Programs in other areas may be valuable, but are less necessary and should bear a greater proportion of the reductions. Unfortunately, even the priority areas listed above must face cuts, as they account for the vast majority of the budget. Tax increases fall most heavily on senior citizens and those most in need, and are not the right formula when we are at the bottom of a deep recession.
Government must do what most families and businesses in Fairfax County have done – set priorities and tighten its belt. I welcome your input in this difficult process.
More information on the FY2011 Budget Online:
Those looking for more details can find the complete FY 2011 Advertised Budget at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/. You can also sign-up for the one of the Board’s Public Hearings on the Budget by visiting https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speaker_bos.htm