Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors could see higher salaries in the future.
Supervisors this week voted 8-2 to consider raising board members’ salaries.
The increase would see board members’ annual salaries go from 90,000 to as high as $130,000, while the chairman’s salary would increase from the current $100,000 to a range of $140,000 to $145,000. The board last received a pay raise eight years ago, in 2015.
Supervisor John Foust, who’s retiring after this year, introduced the motion, saying it’s important to consider the evolving nature and increasing demands of board members and the chairman.
“In addition to counting base work, the job of a supervisor or chairman requires participation in a growing number of regional bodies, in which most board members participate but are not compensated,” Foust said, adding that constituents expect the supervisors to be available 24/7 thanks to today’s technology.
According to an analysis conducted by county staff, 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.
Following a Virginia law that bans current board members from adjusting their salaries, the proposed salary increases would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, when a new board takes office.
Supervisors Pat Herrity and Walter Alcorn voted against the motion. Herrity cited high inflation for county residents and low starting salaries for county police officers as his reasons for opposing the increases.
“Our residents are struggling with inflation — high inflation. They’re struggling with a 50 percent increase in their taxes in the last 10 years, and we got a budget in front of us that doesn’t even address public safety and some of the other critical positions,” he said, adding that it sends the wrong message.
Chairman Jeffrey McKay responded by highlighting Herrity’s office budget.
“It’s interesting because nobody on this Board of Supervisors since Supervisor Herrity was elected has spent more money on their office budget than Supervisor Herrity,” he said.
In a release, Herrity called the board’s proposal unbelievable.
During the vote, Foust requested that county staff “develop a mechanism for any board member who disagrees with the compensation adjustment to return any additional compensation they received to the county.”
When voicing his support for the motion, Supervisor Rodney Lusk acknowledged his experience with running for the seat.
“The only reason I could run is because I had spent 30 years working in this county prior, and I retired, and then I became able to meet the financial requirements,” he said. Lusk added that the question of compensation is essential to increasing diversity.
“If we want diversity, if we talk about the value of it, and if we’re serious about it, I think we have to be honest about this question of compensation,” he said. Lusk was the first African American man elected to the board in 2019.
County staff was also directed to provide compensation comparisons every four years to future boards, giving those boards “the opportunity to consider this action every four years rather than every eight years,” Foust said.
The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed increases March 21.