Fairfax Co. budget proposal: Raises, fully funded schools, no tax increase

FAIRFAX, Va. — Fairfax County’s proposed $4.44 billion budget for fiscal 2020 would not change the real estate property tax, would give raises to county employees and would fully fund the public school system.

“This is a good-news budget for Fairfax County and a good-news budget for Fairfax County Public Schools,” Fairfax County School Superintendent Scott Brabrand said.

Under the proposal, $2.35 billion would be allocated to the school system and would 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.

Raises for Fairfax County employees would average just over 3 percent, with step, longevity and performance-based increases added to a Market Rate Adjustment (MRA) or cost of living adjustment of 1 percent.

“I don’t think there’s anything other than the MRA that I’m really unhappy about, of our budget. There are things that we didn’t put in [the budget], yes, but the MRA is something that I’m going to continue to work on between now and the time we do budget adoption,” County Executive Bryan Hill told reporters after presenting the proposed budget to the County Board of Supervisors.

There’s no proposed change in the residential real estate tax rate of $1.15 per $100 of assessed value. But property values rose on 76 percent of the residences in the county, so the average real estate tax bill would increase by about $149.

Referencing the contentious budget negotiations of recent years, Supervisor Jeff McKay, chairman of the board’s budget committee, sounded optimistic about what supervisors have to work with this year.

“There’s more good news than bad, which is refreshing,” McKay said.

At the budget presentation, some supervisors raised concerns about ongoing requirements to fund Metro. The board meeting set for April 2 will include a discussion of Metro funding.

Hill is encouraging residents to get involved in shaping and choosing how to fund county priorities.

“This budget proposal includes investments in human services, public safety and transportation and relies on savings generated from operational efficiencies,” Hill said. “Your voice matters.”

There are 41 scheduled meetings over the next six weeks related to the budget, and plenty of opportunities for citizen input.

A series of countywide town hall meetings on the proposed budget begins Monday, Feb. 25.

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