Proposed Budget Has a Long Way To Go

Proposed Budget Has a Long Way To Go

Average homeowner would pay about $120 more a year in property taxes.

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill presented his FY 2024 Advertised Budget Tuesday morning, Feb 21. Hill said that revenue projections in the budget are based on the existing real estate tax of $1.11, resulting in an increase to an average homeowner of “just under $120,” because of the rise in property values. Approximately 67 percent of the general fund revenue is derived from real estate taxes which are projected to increase to 6.6 percent over FY23 levels.

According to Hill, the FY2024 Advertised Budget focuses on stabilizing what he called the county’s “core,” meaning its employees and existing programs in place to serve the county’s residents.

“What we are seeing across the board is that it's costing us more and more to sustain this core,” said Hill. 

The focus of his proposal was on employee compensation, Hill said, and on Fairfax County Public Schools.

As for personal property taxes, after a large increase in the fiscal year 2023, Hill said that personal property taxes are projected to be flat in the fiscal year 2024.

Net county resources are projected to increase by $365.46 million over FY 2023 Adopted Budget Plan. The FY 2024 requirements for County allocation of resources total $134.51 million for priorities: county compensation- $92.73 million; debt service/capital requirements- $9.85 million; inflationary /contract rate adjustments-$18.05 million; new facilities $5.31 million, and other priorities- $8.57 million.

The FY2024 allocation for schools is 52.2 percent of the county’s general fund.

The county’s reserves decreased by $3.53 million but remained budgeted at the target of 10 percent of General Fund disbursements. The FY 2024 Requirements for total uses are $275.24 million. That leaves a $90.22 million balance for board consideration.

Hill noted that in the capital improvement program, based on inflation and escalation in construction bids, 10 to 12 percent inflationary factors had been added to most projects. Some projects are recommended to be deferred, such as the Tyson’s Police Station and the Chantilly Regional Library. Other projects are recommended to be accelerated, such as the Tyson’s Fire Station and the Criminal Justice Academy.

“We know that we are not the only ones impacted by this economy; our community partners with which we work every day are similarly struggling with labor and cost increases,” said Hill.

Reactions from the supervisors varied. “I think probably all of us have a sense of a mixed bag here. To say the least, this kind of feels a little bit like watching the stock market. One day things are looking good, and the next day it's all gone,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. McKay added that he wanted people to understand that this budget proposal “fully funds” the FCPS transfer request.“ We know, as recently as last week…there will likely be significant changes at the state level, sitting on historic, unprecedented … surplus.”

Vice Chair Penny Gross (D- Mason) said, “The MRA (Market Rate Adjustment) was a little bit of a disappointment at 2 percent, but we need to work through this. I think part of our challenges (is) with supposedly, the pandemic being behind us. The crushing effects of the pandemic are not behind us- supply chain issues and others. It’s going to take us a long time to get out of the pandemic economy.”

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) provided a written statement after that session. “It is no surprise a tax increase on the average homeowner is still on the table with this Board’s unrestrained spending, a declining commercial real estate tax base and the end of federal pandemic aid. Surrounding jurisdictions, not to mention prior Fairfax County Boards, have been doing what I have been proposing: looking at ways to cut spending and find efficiencies. This Board has refused and our residents, who are already suffering due to the pandemic and inflation, are paying for it.”

Fairfax County Budget Timeline

February 21: County Executive releases FY 2024 Advertised Budget Plan

February 23: School Board adopts FY 2024 (proposed) Budget Plan

February 28: Joint County/School Budget Committee to discuss FY 2024 budget and tax rate

March 7: Board of Supervisors Advertises FY 2024 tax rate

April 11-13: Board of Supervisors holds public hearings on FY 2024 Budget

April 28: Board of Supervisors Budget Committee meeting for pre-markup

May 2: Board of Supervisors marks up FY 2024 Budget

May 9: Board of Supervisors adopts FY 2024 Budget

May 25: School Board adopts FY 2024 Approved Budget

July 1: FY 2024 Budget Year begins