Fairfax County Budget & Real Estate Assessments Y2020
Employee pay, school funding and real estate assessments all increasing once again
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors announced the County Executive’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 is based on a residential real estate tax rate of $1.15 per $100 of assessed value. Just five years ago that rate was $1.09 per 100 of assessed value.
Property assessments in Annandale have risen an average of 2.68% annually each year for the past three. County wide 76% of all homeowners will see an increase, and quite certainly all of Annandale. The end result is that elderly home owners on fixed income and low income individuals are all but frozen out of this market.
The proposed General Fund budget has increased to $4.44 billion, up $161.74 million. This sum does not include federal and state grants. The prime real estate markets in Fairfax are now spaces near the Silver Metro Line, which has helped position Tysons, Herndon, and Reston as the financial powerhouses within the county.
Y2020 budget includes a general fund transfer to Fairfax County Public Schools of $2.35 billion as requested by the School Board. This is 4.11% or $86.46 million, increase over the current FY 2019 school budget. School Debt Service transfer increased by $4.60 million which assumes $180 million in School Bond sales and School Capital Construction at $13.1 million.
“This is a good-news budget for Fairfax County Public Schools,” said Scott Brabrand, Superintendent of Fairfax County Schools Under the proposal, this ever increasing multi billion dollar budget will finally allow for “catch-up” raises that would make teacher salaries more competitive with other districts in the region. “The average [raise] is a little over six percent, but the largest gains are around those midcareer teachers, who were falling behind compared to the rest of the market,” Brabrand said.
County employees will also be given another pay increase which averages 3% based on a 1% Market Rate Adjustment (Cost of Living), plus performance, merit, and/or longevity increases.
Additionally, 109 new county employee positions are proposed for staffing of the South County Police Station, Diversion First Initiative, Opioid Task Force, Gang Prevention Initiative, Increase in E-911 Call Capacity, Animal Services, Public Safety, Parks Environmental Operations, IT support for Elections, School Health, the McLean Community Center, Wastewater and Stormwater Management, and any number of Social Service positions.
Tax assessments can now be viewed online. To see your own assessment and history go to www.icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/ffxcare/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=address. Once the budget is actually adopted, a pie chart is usually available for each individual assessment page showing exactly where your tax money has been spent.
Looking forward, County Executive Bryan Hill points out a moderate revenue growth is anticipated while expenditure needs will continue to outpace resources requiring significant fiscal constraint. Hill also points out that County and School cooperation and collaboration is key since the county transfers more than half their entire revenue to the schools. Revenue is not limitless. As in the past, he cautioned restrained spending. Just as the average wage earner has learned to do more with less, so must the county and county staff.
The county has instigated a modicum of department consolidation during the past year in order to eliminate duplicative services and programs. The budget actually relies upon savings generated from operational efficiencies. Unfortunately, that has not resulted with a trimmed staff. The county payroll grows in all directions, along with benefits. The time has come to explore if certain county departments are no longer relevant to the needs of county residents or may not perform to their mission objective. If so, dissolve these offices. The largess of the taxpayer is not limitless.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the 2020 budget on May 7. The FCPS school board will adopt the approved budget on May 23. To see the full proposed budget and approval timeline, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget.