Teachers, police officers and other Fairfax County, Virginia, government employees will be getting significant pay raises this summer after the Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday the county budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1.
The vote was 9-1 in favor of the $5.1 billion budget.
“We’re facing the same challenge every employer is facing really, which is the fight for workforce,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.
McKay, who is also the chairman of the budget committee, added that the pay increases were needed for retention and future recruitment.
“We have vacancies across the county, not dissimilar from any other jurisdiction, but we want to aggressively go after people to fill those positions and most importantly, keep the talented staff that we have,” McKay said.
The pay raises will average nearly 8% for county workers but are higher for Fairfax County police officers, averaging nearly 13% and even a few getting more than 20%.
McKay said the pay increases are the largest the board has made in decades. Raises for nonuniformed county employees range from 5.4% to 9.4%.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity was the lone vote against the budget. Herrity said he was dissatisfied that the budget did not offer more tax cutting, but he supports the pay raises.
“Certainly, we took care of our employees. We took another step toward compensating our police officers, but we left taxpayers out of the equation … I really like the fact that we took care of our employees because workforce is the issue of the decade,” Herrity said.
The 2024 budget cuts the real estate tax rate by 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.
“Yes, we dropped the rate 1.5 cents, but the average assessments went up 7% … so taxes are up 5.5% … we need to be doing better for our homeowners. We’re literally taxing our residents out of the county and the demographics show it,” Herrity said.
The budget also adjusted the formula used for the car tax, which is expected to result in most car tax bills remaining the same or being slightly lower.
McKay said the board would have liked to further reduce the tax rate but faced the reality of employee compensation in a budget of 80% comprising personnel in an era of a worker shortage.
“I frankly would have liked to have gone further because I know that assessments, which the county does not control, really have gone through the roof,” McKay said. “But it’s very difficult to do that in a year where you have to also fully fund your school system, and you have to fully fund employee compensation … Given all the competing issues this year and all the challenges we face to achieve a 9 to 1 board vote on this budget, I think should send very strong confidence to the community that we have our priorities straight.”
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