After hours of public comment and testimony, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 this week to approve 30 percent salary increases for future members.
The increase would see board members’ annual salaries go from 90,000 to $123,283, while the chairman’s salary would increase from the current $100,000 to $138,283, according to a newsletter from Chairman Jeffrey Mckay. In accordance with Virginia law, the pay raises would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, when a new board takes office.
Supervisor John Foust, who plans to retire after this year, introduced the motion at an earlier board meeting this month. His proposal called for board members’ salaries to increase as high as $130,000 and to a range of $140,000 to $145,000 for the chairman. The board last received a pay raise eight years ago, in 2015.
The proposed increases would be consistent with what board members would be paid if they had received the same pay increases that county staff did since 2015, according to an analysis conducted by county staff.
“While the analysis was informative, I always felt these amounts were way too high,” McKay said in his newsletter.
The board heard from a multitude of people opposing the proposed pay hikes. Many agreed the supervisors deserved a raise but argued that the proposed amount was too much of an increase.
Charles McAndrew, a Fairfax County taxpayer alliance board member, said when he learned of the possible increase, he found it preposterous until he knew that the board had not received a raise in eight years. However, he still suggested that the lawmakers lower the percentage to three percent.
“I think if you decided to give yourself a raise of three percent to make up for that, I can understand that. You’re only going to give the county employees– as I understand that two percent increase,” he said.
Several speakers highlighted pay for county staff and public safety workers as a reason for their opposition.
Alicia Loloiian said the proposal made her embarrassed to be a county resident.
“Giving the Fairfax County employees a 2 percent raise, and you want to give yourself a 40 to 45 percent raise – I mean, how embarrassing is that? I’m just embarrassed to be a Fairfax County native at this point,” she said.
County resident Holly DePaul said the proposed increase is out of line when considering real estate taxes and the rate of inflation.
“The real estate tax bill for the typical Fairfax County household has grown over 217 percent, while inflation is 8 percent and household income is a lowly 67 percent. So property taxes have gone up three times more than household income,” she said.
Despite the many speakers opposing the pay raises, there was some support. Resident William Brennan agreed with the increases highlighting the work the supervisors are responsible for.
“Many county employees make more money than the board. Yet the Board of Supervisors is responsible for all county legislation, approval of a multibillion-dollar budget, appointing the heads of most departments and general oversight of many agencies,” he said.
Following public comment, Supervisor Foust moved to lower the proposed increases to $123,283 for supervisors and $138,283 for the chairman. In his motion, Foust said it’s essential that candidates who serve on the board are adequately compensated.
“Supervisory compensation should be set at a level that will enable anyone to serve regardless of their personal circumstances,” Foust said.
Supervisors Pat Herrity and Walter Alcorn voted against the raises. Herrity addressed the job vacancy rate, inflation and real estate taxes as the reason he’s not supporting the increase, calling it outrageous.
“Prioritizing a board salary increase without addressing any of these, as we heard from our residents tonight, is outrageous,” he said.