Letter: Time to Speak Out for Quality of Life in Fairfax County

Letter: Time to Speak Out for Quality of Life in Fairfax County

To the Editor

To the Editor:

Fairfax County is a composite of many things that make the quality of life rich for people living here.

  • Low crime rate thanks to the police whose budget also pays for the School Resource Officers and the School Crossing Guards;

  • Access to a variety of good health care including a Health Department whose Health Department budget pays for school nurses;

  • 500 square miles of public parks, 300 miles of trails and the nation’s only national park for the performing arts; libraries to enjoy with a variety of programs;

  • Public Schools with great staff, a graduation rate of 93 percent, and 74 percent of graduates going on to postsecondary programs;

  • Safety net services for people in need, including Family Services and diversity of economic housing;

  • County Government recognized for environmental excellence, innovation, and technology;

  • Desirable location for businesses and access to skilled and talented workforce: two times as many Fairfax County adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the national average, home to Virginia’s largest university and community college;

  • Close to museums, theaters, restaurants, shopping, fit and healthy living that is accessible by public transportation.

The county’s proposed budget is $3.99 billion of which almost 60 percent is directly (52.2 percent) or indirectly (School Resource Officers, Crossing Guards, Nurses, and debt service for interest paid on bonds for construction or renovation of school buildings and athletic fields) going to public schools. This year it is proposed to give the schools an additional 3 percent or $54.75 million. About 27 percent of county households have children in the public schools. This ratio of increasing taxes paid to schools and the percentage of households with children in the public schools is not sustainable to keep all quality of life services at the current level, especially with the huge increase in the 50+ age population the county is expecting in the next decade.

Residents who care about these quality of life programs should speak out to the Board of Supervisors during the budget cycle through April 9, 2016. Email, call, write, or testify that you want the entire elected Board of Supervisors to fairly and equally represent all interests and all services for all county residents. Speak out for the total quality of life in Fairfax County.

Johna Gagnon