At the end of February when I looked at the proposed cuts to public safety, schools, parks, libraries, and human services in the budget that the county executive had just released, I almost didn’t recognize Fairfax County. The budget that the Board of Supervisors adopted on April 27 is a far sight better than what I saw on that bleak February day. It transfers slightly less than last year to the schools following the School Board's decision that they could fully fund their budget with that amount and restores the programs such as language immersion and elementary school music programs. It also restores many of the proposed cuts to public safety, parks and libraries, and human services. It’s a fair and fiscally responsible budget and still includes program cuts and reorganizations to many programs.
To put a number on this—in FY2011, we will be spending almost $92 million less than last year. Over the past two years we have reduced spending by over 220 million and cut 480 positions. While we advertised a property tax rate of up to $1.12, we were able to hold the line at $1.09. This budget was fair to all the needs of the County and to the taxpayers’ bottom line. We recognized that a recession is no time for either large tax hikes or widespread cuts to needed County services.
We began this year's budget process with an almost $300 million dollar shortfall that came on the heels of the previous year’s $650 million dollar shortfall. At the same time, we saw a sharp increase in demands on County services.
Unlike the Federal government we can’t have a deficit budget so for the second consecutive year we’ve cut County positions and frozen salaries. We have made extensive agency cuts and reorganizations, and raised fees to take some of the burden from homeowners. We’ve also cut many services and kept the transfer to the school system flat. (The school transfer is almost 54 percent of our General Fund, primarily because Fairfax County receives a much lower level of Federal and State funding than do many other localities.)
Our citizens have high expectations for their local government, the services it provides, and the quality of those services. In fact, our property values depend on that. We can find new ways of doing things: better and more efficient ways to stretch our revenue dollars, more partnerships with non-profits and the private sector, and diversified revenue sources to take the pressure off our homeowners.
In This Issue of Supervisor McKay's Lee District Update: