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Fairfax Board Backs Lower Tax Rate, But No Increase in Schools Funding

Employee pay an issue as the Board of Supervisors drafts amendments to the FY2014 budget.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have begun adjusting the Fiscal Year 2014 budget package by lowering the proposed tax rate by a penny. But supervsiors still didn't back increases in funding to public schools and employee compensation.

During a meeting of the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee on Friday, Chairman Sharon Bulova presented a list of amendments to spending plan.

The Board will vote on a proposed real estate tax rate of $1.085 per $100 of assessed value, a penny lower than the $1.095 rate proposed by County Executive Ed Long in his original plan.

The adjustment is expected to cut the county revenue by about $20 million.

County employees advocated for higher pay during public hearings earlier this month, but a lack of flexibility in the budget will make that impossible, officials said Friday

The school system also advocated for a higher increase in the transfer from the county’s General Fund, but that too was kept at the original 2 percent bump.

Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said equity between county and schools employees was very important.

He worried an increase to the schools would allow them to give their employees slight pay increases while county government employees’ pay stayed frozen.

“I don’t know that we’ve had a commitment that has been forthcoming from the schools not to raise compensation on their side,” Hyland said Friday. “The worst thing that could happen, in my opinion, is for us not to do anything with compensation on our side, increase the transfer by 2 percent to schools, and then they increase the compensation for their employees when we don’t. That would not be a good result for us.”

Supervisor Pat Herrity proposed giving employees bonuses out of the budget’s carryover dollars in FY2015.

“Our employees know where we can save money, and if we grant them a portion of those savings they are more likely to respond positively,” he said in his recommendations.

But other supervisors said a small bonus from the carryover package would make little difference to employees.

Many other programs that residents had advocated for did not receive funding, including Head Start and the Community Health Care Network.

A number of public safety positions have been taken off of the cut list. Money for four police station logistics positions has been restored, along with three other positions for courtroom security in some civil and domestic cases.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on the amendments Tuesday and formally adopt a final package on April 30.

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