Fairfax Supervisors May Need Magician This Budget Cycle

Early Proposals Prioritize Raises, But Could Hit Homeowners in the Wallet

Brian Trompeter | GazetteLeader

Fairfax County taxpayers ponied up hundreds more dollars this year to finance higher county and school budgets, and based on information delivered Nov. 28 to county leaders, they should brace themselves to do the same thing next year.

Officials are projecting a $284.5 million budget shortfall, with an estimated $152.3 million revenue increase being more than offset by a projected $223.3 million more in county spending and an additional $213.5 million for the school system.

While county revenues grew a whopping 7.3 percent in fiscal 2023, officials expect that total to be halved to a more-normal 3.6 percent this fiscal year and drop again to 1.9 percent in fiscal 2025.

County officials project “substantially lower” growth in the real-estate-tax base in fiscal 2025, with residential assessments estimated to be 2.07 percent higher (versus 6.97 percent this fiscal year) and commercial assessments losing 1.6 percent (as opposed to this fiscal year’s 1.65-percent gain).

“We knew this was coming, unfortunate as it may be,” Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R-Springfield) said of the budget projections.

Officials stressed that the financial forecast presented at a joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and School Board was just an estimate, but in previous years those figures closely have mirrored what eventually was presented in the following years’ advertised budgets.

The lion’s share of the estimated spending increases next year would be for employee pay and benefits.

The Board of Supervisors on Dec. 5 was scheduled to vote on new pay packages for the Fairfax County Police and Fire and Rescue departments, which would see overall fiscal 2025 pay increases of $37.5 million and $23.7 million, respectively.

READ MORE AT GAZETTELEADER.COM

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