Board of Supervisors Completes Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Mark-up


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
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April 21, 2008

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Completes
Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Mark-up

On April 21, 2008, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors marked up the proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, which begins on July 1, 2008. Formal adoption of the budget is scheduled to take place April 28, 2008.

The Board’s Budget Mark-Up package, presented by Board Budget Chair Sharon Bulova noted that the County is embarking on a challenging period due to the current downturn of the real estate market. Bulova noted the difficulty of the FY 2009 Budget process but cautioned that the worst was likely still ahead. The FY 2009 marked-up budget proposal includes a 3 cent increase in the tax rate from $0.89 to $0.92 per $100 of assessed value but due to lower residential assessment values, the average taxpayer in Fairfax County still will see a minimal reduction in their tax bill.

Bulova’s caution is based on current market trends, which show that residential real estate assessments are likely to experience a significant decline in FY 2010 as a result of the continued deterioration of the housing market and that overall County revenue will at best remain flat but most likely will decline in FY 2010. As a result, funding for County and Fairfax County Public School spending will be further limited in FY 2010, and possibly for several years beyond. While acknowledging a number of worthwhile consideration items proposed for the FY 2009 budget, Bulova stated that given the potential fiscal situation for the next few years, only a select few could be funded at this time. In her remarks accompanying the FY 2009 Mark-Up package, Bulova stated, “Through cuts and re-allocations within the County Executive’s Advertised budget, and a tax rate adjustment of 3 cents, this package provides a $40 million increase to the Fairfax County Public Schools, maintains our commitment to pay equity to our County employees and continues funding for the Board’s environmental and affordable housing priorities.”

Prior to marking up the FY 2009 fiscal plan, the Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2008 Third Quarter Review. This quarterly review required several adjustments impacting both revenues and disbursements for the remainder of FY 2008 resulting in an estimated FY 2008 available balance of $0.

The FY 2009 plan marked up by the Board of Supervisors provides for a balanced budget based on General Fund Revenue growth of 1.03 percent over the FY 2008 Revised Budget Plan and 1.02 percent over the FY 2008 Adopted Budget Plan. Total General Fund Disbursements are projected to total $3.35 billion, a decrease of $30.77 million or 0.91 percent from the FY 2008 Revised Budget Plan. Excluding adjustments in the current fiscal year, the actual increase over the FY 2008 level is $35.19 million or 1.06 percent over the FY 2008 Adopted Budget Plan. Of the increase over the FY 2008 Adopted Budget Plan, approximately $46.77 million or 132.9 percent is associated with increased funding for Fairfax County Public Schools. Net of the increase to Fairfax County Public Schools, County-only disbursements decreased $11.58 million or 0.73 percent from the FY 2008 Adopted Budget Plan.

The marked-up budget proposal seeks to preserve and maintain investments made in County services and toward the Board’s priorities in the areas of education, public safety and gang prevention, affordable housing, environmental protection, transportation and revenue diversification. These goals have long shaped Board resource allocation and program delivery decisions in order to maintain the high quality of life for which Fairfax County is known. Maintaining sufficient funding in support of these priority areas has proved extremely challenging in this most difficult budget year; however this proposal seeks to maintain these investments. To this end, Consideration Items funded by the Board, include:

  • Increased funds for the Code Enforcement Strike Team.

  • Funds to continue the Protecting Children Against Sex Offenders (P’CASO) program in the Police Department.

  • And restoring funding for several Human Services programs impacted by the across-the-board reduction in limited-term salaries.

As noted earlier, the FY 2009 marked-up budget proposal includes a 3 cent increase in the tax rate from $0.89 to $0.92 per $100 of assessed value; however, due to lower residential assessment values, the average taxpayer in Fairfax County still will see a minimal reduction in their tax bill. This increase is necessary to address the following three issues:

  • The Board deliberations on the FY 2009 budget began by addressing a shortfall of $24.8 million due to continued declines in revenue and increased fuel-related costs.

  • The School Board requested an increase of $63.8 million, or 4.0 percent, over their FY 2008 funding level. The Board adjustments provide an additional $40.0 million to schools.

  • There were a number of County requirements not funded in the County Executive’s proposal, including full funding of employee compensation increases, additional support for the Code Enforcement Strike Team, and restoration of the P’CASO positions in the Police Department. These increases are funded by Board-approved reductions in other areas of the County budget.

Even at the $0.92 per $100 of assessed value rate, the average taxpayer will pay slightly less in real estate taxes in FY 2009 than in FY 2008 as a result of the decline in the average assessed value from $542,409 to $524,076. Taxpayers also continue to benefit from the elimination of the motor vehicle decal fee.

Other important elements included in the marked-up FY 2009 budget include implementation of an additional 11-cent real estate tax rate on commercial and industrial property in the County that will generate an additional $51.7 million for new or enhanced transportation initiatives.

The Board reaffirmed its commitment to employee wellness by supporting the County Executive’s initiative to improve employees’ overall health and well-being. The program will include health risk assessments and an enhanced disease management program, reduced membership rates for merit employees and retirees at the County’s RECenters and influenza vaccinations for County employees and retirees. In addition, employees in self-insured plans will not have a premium increase in FY 2009.

Going forward, the Board approved a set of Budget Guidelines for FY 2010 that directed the County Executive to:

  • Provide the Board with regular updates on the FY 2010 financial forecast to assist decision making as it relates to guidance to the County and the Schools on strategic priorities and the budgetary support for programs and services in FY 2010. The forecast should include revenue projections with a focus on the residential market including regular updates on the number of foreclosures, their location and the impact on the housing market.

  • Provide the Board with the opportunity to comprehensively review the County’s Lines of Business (LOBS) including focused discussions with County agencies regarding program and service priorities, possible areas for elimination, reduction, reorganization, consolidation, and/or alternative service delivery and provides the opportunity to address the performance and efficiency of County programs. Because the transfer to Schools represents more than 50 percent of the budget, the Board requested that the School Board share in this process and also undertake a review of School spending and programs.

The Board also noted that they are extremely interested in hearing from the community regarding what Fairfax County’s priorities should be during difficult economic times. As a result, the County Executive was directed to implement a public input process as part of the FY 2010 budget that provides opportunity for public comment, including a public hearing in the fall of 2008 as well as online opportunities for residents to communicate questions, suggestions for improvement and concerns. The public input process should include both traditional means of gathering and disseminating information about the budget, such as community meetings and presentations, as well as more online opportunities using newer social media initiatives.

In addition, the Board directed staff to return to the Board with recommendations on short-term adjustments to the Revenue Stabilization Reserve policy to enable the County Executive to quickly access the reserve should revenues drop precipitously and also directed the County Executive to provide recommendations for adjustments to the Revenue Stabilization Reserve criteria to maximize flexibility of the fund while providing for and maintaining adequate reserves to address County emergency requirements. Recommended adjustments could include increasing the size of reserve once the economy recovers to allow for some tax rate stabilization, identifying reserve replenishment procedures and authorizing the County Executive to utilize the fund under certain circumstances as a short term remedy while longer term strategies are being developed.

Information on the FY 2009 budget, including revisions made during the April 21, 2008 Budget Mark-up session, is available by calling the Department of Management and Budget at 703-324-2391, TTY 711, as well as on the County’s Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb.

Attachment:

  • April 21, 2008 – FY 2009 Budget Mark-up Process Board Motions (PDF)
    o FY 2008 Third Quarter Review
    o FY 2009 Budget, including adjustments to the FY 2009 Budget Proposal
    o FY 2009-2013 Capital Improvement Program (with future fiscal years to FY 2018), including adjustments
    o Budget Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010

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For more news and information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news.

Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.



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