Supervisors Adopt Budget Plan: Tax Rate Increase.

Supervisors Adopt Budget Plan: Tax Rate Increase.

Challenges, needs, and the reality that the county cannot do it alone.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2025 Budget Plan on May 7.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2025 Budget Plan on May 7.

As expected, following the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' approval of the FY 2025 Budget Mark-up Package on April 30, the Board adopted the FY 2025 Budget on May 7, with the board’s nine Democrats voting yes and Republican Supervisor Pat Herrity voting no.

The board set the Fiscal Year 2025 real property tax rate to $1.125 per $100 of assessed value, increasing the rate by three cents rather than the county executive’s proposed four-cent real estate tax increase. The average tax bill hike will be just over $ 450. It is the first increase in six years and is occurring alongside rising home valuations.

Chairman Jeff McKay read a series of three motions, which the board voted on separately. 

With Fairfax County's FY 2025 tax rate resolution having established the real property tax rate of $1.125 per $100 of assessed value, the board then voted nine-to-one and adopted the FY 2025 tax rate resolution adopting tax rates for Fairfax County (as detailed in the attachment to the memorandum to the board dated May 6, 2024). Supervisor Harrity voted no.

Lastly, the board approved, in a vote of nine to one, with Supervisor Herrity voting no, the FY 2025 appropriation resolution for county agencies, the FY 2025 appropriations resolution for school board funds, and the FY 2025 fiscal planning resolution appropriation resolution as set forth in attachments three, four, and five of the memorandum to the board dated May 6, 2024. 

FY 2025 begins on July 1, 2024, and ends on June 30, 2025.

Following the motions, McKay said the board had heard “from hundreds of folks throughout the process.” He thanked Supervisors Kathy Smith (Sully) and Dalia A. Palchik, Providence, who participated in the budget process, as well as budget staff. 

“It's an intense period of time, but as I mentioned before, our budget staff is working on this stuff year-round. It just gets accelerated here in the last couple of weeks.” McKay said.

Due to the county's diminishing commercial tax base, the adopted FY 2025 Budget Plan proved financially tight and relied even more than usual on residential property owners for funding. Highlights of the process leading to the adopted FY 2025 Budget Plan include that the real estate tax rate of $1.125 per $100 of assessed value is down one cent from County Executive Bryan Hill's proposed four-cent increase in his FY 2025 Advertised Budget Plan presented Feb. 20. Nevertheless, the increase in average real estate tax bill will be approximately $450.

Fairfax County provides a real estate assessment site at, allowing searches by address, tax map reference number, or map search.

The operational transfer of funding for Fairfax County Public Schools includes $165 million, which is $89 million less than the $254 million FCPS requested. The FY 2025 Budget Plan increases general county employee compensation from 3.25 to 6 percent and funds a 2 percent market rate adjustment, benchmark adjustments, and public safety collective bargaining contract obligations. The plan cites $34 million in cutbacks by county agencies. Such reductions, though, in future years would affect county personnel and resident services.

Future Fairfax County challenges are significant, and the Commonwealth is adding to them.

Fairfax County is unable to fund everything on its own, especially since it must rely heavily on real estate taxes as a revenue source for expenditures. “About 80 percent of our revenue comes from property taxes (real estate and personal property). The Virginia General Assembly either caps or controls other revenues,” according to the county's Budget and Finance Department.

The FY 2025 Budget Mark-Up states, "The state must recognize its own role in directly supporting public schools and Metro infrastructure."

The Fairfax County Public Schools division needs county and state funding support. Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study confirmed that the state underfunded Fairfax County Public Schools, like other Commonwealth divisions. The analysis said Virginia had a "complex and unreasonable" funding formula. Local homeowners pay a disproportionate share for school support. Implementing all JLARC recommendations will provide Fairfax County Public Schools with $568.7 million in state money annually.

 Metro is the only major transit system in the country without some form of dedicated and sustainable funding, as it reported in its April 25 news release, which announced that its Board approved a $4.8 billion operating budget for Metrorail and bus service. The April 30 Fairfax County Budget Guidance for FY 2025 and FY 2026 states that funding the Metro system is a shared responsibility between the state and localities. Metro fuels Northern Virginia’s economy which benefits the Commonwealth’s economy overall.

On April 8, 2024, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced recommended amendments to the state budget. He proposed that Northern Virginia localities (which are part of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), Loudoun County, Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, City of Alexandria, and Arlington County) could use previously allocated state aid to address Metro's shortfall. NVTC would redirect most of the $113.8 million, or about $98 million, to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). It amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

An April 16 unanimously board-approved letter by Chairman Jeff McKay, Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, and Dranesville District Supervisor James Bierman urged the county's General Assembly delegation to oppose the governor's proposed funding cuts and retain the necessary funding to address WMATA's estimated $750 million shortfall. The letter said the Governor's FY 2025–2026 Biennial Budget amendment would eliminate state funding to NVTC that matched local WMATA contributions.

The letter said that doing so would add "an overly disproportionate burden on budgets" for NVTC localities. Furthermore, if the amendment moved forward, NVTC's Fairfax County funding for the Connector bus fleet replacement would run out in October 2024 without state aid.

On Thursday, April 25, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) Board of Directors approved a $4.8 billion fiscal year 2025 budget and increased fares by 12.5 percent. In the future, Metro will face similar difficulties in balancing its budget annually unless there is dedicated funding.

The Virginia State Budget has yet to be approved, and Youngkin and the General Assembly continue negotiating. A special legislative session is planned to begin May 13.