Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and staff meet socially distanced and remotely for the Wednesday, April 29 public hearing on the revised fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal before them.
One of the ACLU People Power Fairfax lead advocates, Diane Burkley Alejandro testified on the revised fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal before the Fairfax Board of Supervisors. "Let me first say that my heart goes out to all of you. You have difficult choices to make in unchartered territory. The health, welfare and lives of Fairfax residents are in your hands. I urge you to remember that you will never be faulted for overreacting. You will be faulted forever for under-reacting," Alejandro said. The revised budget differed from the one County Executive Bryan Hill presented to the board before the COVID-19 pandemic. Slashed were nearly all new programs, staff positions, compensation increases and more.
FOR THREE DAYS, April 28-30, people testified live by phone, and by video and written testimony. Whether the person represented an organization, like John Cartmill, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions who advocated Supervisors be fiscally responsible, reduce the County's carbon footprint and purchase electric vehicles or represented a union, like Emily VanDerhoff, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers who advocated for increased numbers of school psychologists, counselors and social workers, a common theme emerged - don't forget us. "We are here, and we are serving. Please, when you are making your decisions, don't forget about us," said Naketa Proctor, a supervisor with Self-Sufficiency in South County in a video submitted by the Fairfax County Government Employees Union SEIU Virginia 512.
Individuals testified for current funding to "stay the course." They solicited additional funds to offset increased need or abort program closure, and they offered the fiscal solutions to use reserve funds now, save programs and lives later.
Alison DeCourcey is the executive director of United Community. She said the organization served the largest island of the disadvantaged in Fairfax County, the neighborhoods along Route 1. DeCourcey reported a recent 890 percent increase in the number of clients at its food pantry. "Coronavirus is going to require extra resources… but we cannot lose sight of our goal …ending multi-generational poverty by turning these islands of disadvantage into communities of opportunity. Just as United Community stays the course, we urge the County to stay the course on its own plans to actualize One Fairfax."
Nancy Scott also urged Supervisors to stay the course. Speaking on behalf of Insight Memory Care Center, a nonprofit adult day health and resource center for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other memory impairments, Scott said, "Insight was a lifeline for me and my late husband, Jim … (and) relies on funding from Fairfax County to sustain its programs, and is hopeful it will continue to receive CCFP (Consolidated Community Funding Pool) funds."
Judith Dittman is CEO of Second Story, an organization that provides services to homeless and at-risk young people and families. She said Second Story tried to find other revenue sources to fund increased expenses but failed. She asked the Supervisors for $190,000. "Without this funding, we will have to close Second Story for Teens in Crisis," Dittman said.
FAIRFAX COUNTY SHERIFF Stacey Kincaid described the extraordinary effort the men and women in the public safety agency make on the front lines of COVID-19 and its toll. She said,"Front line responders have not been able to get pandemic-related types of leave… We support providing flexible leave…(and) expanding the limits of carryover compensatory time." Kincaid said she hoped Supervisors addressed funding for 2.06 percent of the Medical Revenue Authority during FY 21, considered equitable compensation and focused "on Diversion First, which ensures that our residents with mental illness or substance use disorders receive the care and assistance they need."
Burkley Alejandro testified COVID-19 disproportionately hurt the immigrant community, and they too needed a safety net. She offered a financial solution saying, "Be bold and swift. Use your emergency powers…Feel free to act incrementally… People's lives are more important than the County's credit rating…Let the scores be damned. The balanced budget requirement is a red herring. Here, you have more than sufficient reserves and TEC SAC funding (Tertiary Education Commission Student Achievement Component funding).
Meanwhile, turning attention to Schools, Fairfax County Council PTA President Jane Miscavage called the earlier budget "forward-looking.” However, with the COVID-19 crisis and the economic recovery that lies ahead, she said, "It is with great sadness that we support the county executive's recommendation to defer much of this spending that was originally proposed for Fiscal Year 21."
Fairfax County Federation of Teachers member Lisa Demmel said there was a "huge educational socio-economic divide" especially felt on the Route 1 corridor. She said resources should be increased to eliminate the digital divide for students and other needs. She urged the board to increase funding by "using our reserve funds and to aggressively seek federal aid to beef up and improve our educational system."
According to Tiffany Finck-Haynes Lobbyist-Organizer Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, on April 17, the union sent a letter to the School Board concerned that Superintendent Brabrand proposed to increase pay for elementary school principals while simultaneously freezing the pay of nearly all other FCPS staff.
Visit: https://fairfaxcounty.gov/cableconsumer/ to watch the budget public hearings.
May 5: Board of Supervisors marks up FY 2021 Budget and adopts FY 2020 Third Quarter Review
May 12: Board of Supervisors adopts FY 2021 Budget, tax rate and budget transfer amount to FCPS
TBD: School Board adopts FCPS FY 2021 Approved Budget
July 1: FY 2021 begins