The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors must fix the county’s broken pension plan. The current pension plan defies any semblance of good governance:
- It costs too much, with its asymmetrical growth over the past 20 years raising property taxes and giving the county a multi-billion dollar unfunded liability.
- Its 27% county contribution to each employee’s pension plan provides an excessively generous benefit that is completely out-of-line with other government and private company retirement plans in the area.
- It prevents adequate funding of critical government needs, such as competitive salaries for key employees and teachers.
Fairfax County’s pension plan has developed into such a debacle that it cries out for fixing. While a complete revamping of the plan to align it with other local plans would be preferable, the complete set of reforms proposed by Republican Supervisor Pat Herrity in 2018 offers much-needed improvements.
The Republican Party of Virginia’s creed cites fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints as core elements. But fiscal responsibility is not solely a Republican virtue. All of us—Republicans, Democrats, independents, citizens—want good government.
Those with experience in organizations know that actually taking productive action to improve government involves careful assessment of problems, hard choices among competing interests, and a lot of hard work.
The County’s pension problem will only get worse if unaddressed, and it will eventually destroy not only the county’s fiscal solvency but the quality of life for county residents.
The Board must muster the political resolve to do the right and responsible thing—to approve reforms that will fix this pension problem and ensure fiscal solvency for the Fairfax County government in the future.