County Executive Bryan Hill presented his proposed FY 2023 Budget on Tuesday, telling the Board of Supervisors he is cautiously optimistic that the county is turning a corner on the pandemic and heading down a new road to economic recovery.
“I’m very proud of how our community and our team have weathered the challenges of the last two years and I believe there is reason for hope that a return to normalcy is in sight,” Hill said. “This budget reflects our optimism but also our commitment to wise investment in county priorities, including our workforce.”
Hill is proposing no change to the current $1.14 tax rate but included an unallocated balance of almost $80 million to be used at the board’s discretion. The county’s strong real estate market is good news, and the main driver behind a 6.83% projected FY 2023 General Fund revenue increase. However, that translates to a 9.57% equalization rate (the market-driven property value change) which would mean a $666 average property tax bill increase at the proposed tax rate.
The budget proposal includes a further expanded tax relief program and eliminates the 10% penalty for late filing of vehicle registrations. Hill is recommending Board of Supervisors discussion about additional potential measures to mitigate the burden on taxpayers of both rising real estate and personal property values.
Schools Operating Request Fully Funded, a $117.9 Million Increase
The budget fully funds the $2.285 billion Fairfax County Public Schools operating request, a $112.6 million or 5.18% increase. Including debt service and an additional $2.5 million in capital funding, the total increase for FCPS in the FY 2023 proposal is $117.9 million. Schools represent 52.4% of General Fund disbursements in FY 2023.
Compensation, opportunity and access, and critical operational needs are budget priorities for FCPS, with most of the schools funding increase designated for its compensation program. Recruitment and retention have been issues for both schools and the county.
Employee Compensation Program Proposed for Full Funding, First Since 2019
Hill’s proposal includes full funding of the calculated 4.01% market rate adjustment (MRA) as well as performance, merit and longevity increases. The Board of Supervisors FY 2023 Budget Guidance directed that employee compensation be prioritized, recognizing the challenges many county agencies are experiencing with recruitment and retention. In total proposed pay increases average 6.16% for non-uniformed merit employees and 7.86% for uniformed merit employees.
In addition, the proposal funds job class adjustments to address those that have fallen behind relative to the job market. Many of these classes include positions significantly impacted by the pandemic, including behavior health specialists, public health nurses and public safety communicators.
Additional Investments Align with Board Priorities, Strategic Plan
The FY 2023 proposal also funds investments in priorities identified by the board and aligned with the strategic plan, such as affordable housing, Diversion First, opioid use prevention efforts, public safety staffing, and the new language access program. Baseline funding for new initiatives initially paid for with stimulus funds is also included, and there are just over 100 new county positions proposed, primarily to staff new facilities, continue previous initiatives, and respond to expanded workload requirements.
Budget Timeline and Ways to Provide Input
Budget committee meetings take place in March and April, with public hearings scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday, April 12-14 . Markup (when the Board makes changes to the advertised budget) takes place on Tuesday, April 26, and the Board adopts the FY 2023 Budget on Tuesday, May 10.
Budget Town Halls are now underway. Learn more about participating in the budget public hearings, including by phone or video submission. You can also email testimony to the Clerk to the Board's office or call with questions at (703) 324-3151 (TTY 711). Register to speak using the online form.