County Executive Bryan Hill has proposed a new Fairfax County FY 2021 Budget drastically different from that which he presented in February, prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic and its massive impact on the economy and county residents.
Video, phone and online testimony options are available for the budget public hearings, which have been rescheduled to Tuesday through Thursday, April 28-30. but there will be no in-person testimony on the budget proposal, in order to protect the public and staff.
FY 2021 General Fund disbursements, as recommended in the revised proposal, are $4.47 billion, an increase of $22.49 million, or 0.51%, over the FY 2020 Adopted Budget Plan. All spending adjustments included in the revised proposal are offset by savings in fringe benefits and reserve contributions. Revenues are held flat in the updated plan.
The new plan eliminates:
- The proposed three-cent real estate tax rate increase, which would have funded Board of Supervisors priorities like early education, the environment and affordable housing.
- The 4% Admissions Tax included in the original proposal.
- County compensation increases for employees.
- Expanded library hours.
- New positions to staff various programs and facilities including the under-construction Scotts Run Fire and South County Police stations, Diversion First and the Opioid Task Force.
The increase in the transfer to the Schools Operating Fund is reduced from $85.52 million in the original proposal to $7.31 million. Including support for Schools Debt Service and Construction, Schools transfers increase 0.32% over the FY 2020 Adopted Budget Plan and represent 52.7% of General Fund disbursements.
“Little did we suspect, at the time, that the COVID-19 pandemic could so quickly and significantly change the economic outlook—not only for Fairfax County but across the country and the world.”County Executive Bryan Hill
COVID-19’s impact on county revenue is extremely difficult to predict at this time, Hill explained, noting declines are expected in numerous categories—Sales Tax; Transient Occupancy Tax; Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses Tax; building and inspection fees and interest on investments. As a result, the proposed budget defers most of the recommended spending adjustments from the original budget proposal.
Funding increases that remain in the new proposal would cover additional positions for the county’s Health Department and School Health programs and increased support for the Consolidated Community Funding Pool. New adjustments are directly related to the county’s pandemic response and include additional positions with the county’s Health Department and a $9.84 million appropriated reserve for additional needs related to the pandemic.
The $2 trillion Federal stimulus package, which is expected to help state and local governments rebuild their budgets, was noted in Hill’s message, including the Coronavirus Relief Fund which offers stabilization grants for local governments with populations over 500,000.