0
Votes

MCA Talks Tough in Tough Budget Times

Citizens Group Recommends Office to Manage County Finances

“You don’t know what you’re doing with this salary administration program, so why don’t you just stop it in your tracks?”

-Jim Turner, MCA Budget and Taxation Committee Co-chair

“We have far more population influx than we have money to pay for the many, many things we need. This business of the endless pay increases for county employees is absurd.”

-Susan Turner, co-chair, MCA Planning and Zoning Committee

“We like the programs, but we don’t want to pay for them. That’s the message that comes across in the resolution.”

-Tom Brock, Education Committee Chair

Noting that their tax assessments this year went up by an average of 15 percent, the same overall rate that county employee salaries have risen in the last three years, the McLean Citizens Association last week “strongly urged” Fairfax County to freeze employee salaries and form “an Office of Financial Management” to institute zero-based budgeting.

The MCA also asked the Economic Development Authority (EDA), whose budget is a $6.7 million line of business in Fairfax County’s $2.6 billion budget, “end all attempts to recruit for further development until the existing office vacancy space is eliminated.”

The 40-member MCA board said salaries that come under the county’s merit pay system, Pay for Performance (P4P), should freeze while the system is refined.

“The county does spend a lot of money,” said MCA Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Jim Turner. “Revenues this year are projected to be $1.6 billion more than they were four years ago.

You get numb to it, in a sense.”

“We had to do something pretty dramatic. We’ve done resolutions in the past, and nothing seemed to happen.”

“This time, we said, ‘where’s all the money going?’ It essentially goes to salaries. We recommend reorganization for the county government to try to get some financial and fiscal control over the spending that goes on in the Government Center. “The [MCA] view is: ‘You spend too blame much money.’

County employees’ salaries have increased by an average cumulative total of 15.3 percent under Pay for Performance, the MCA noted.

“It is unlikely that over 80 percent of all county government employees are superior or exceptional year after year...” said the April 2 resolution.

Turner said the MCA’s message to county officials is that “You don’t know what you’re doing with this salary administration, so why don’t you just stop it in its tracks?”

“They can’t get up the guts to tell people ‘you’re not meeting the standards.’ Or maybe the standards are too low.”

But Tom Brock said the resolution might hurt the MCA’s credibility by showing that taxpayers “like the programs, but we don’t want to pay for them. That’s the message that comes across in the resolution” because the MCA backed the budget proposed for Fairfax County Schools.

“I think we’re at the situation where the county’ can’t do everything it wants to do,” said Wade Smith of McLean Hamlet.

While the county has appropriated no money for trails in three years, Smith said, it spends $7 million to operate Fast Tran buses for elderly and disabled people when a program to subsidize cab fares might cost less.

“We have far more population influx than we have money to pay for the many, many things we need,” said Susan Turner, co-chair of the MCA planning and zoning Committee.

“This business of endless pay increases for county employees is absurd.”