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
Pensions alone currently cost the county 30 cents on top of every payroll dollar – over 65 cents if you include all benefits
For Immediate Release
Fairfax County Republican Committee objects to Fairfax County Board’s fiscal irresponsibility
Board refusal to support Republican-led comprehensive pension reform lessens County’s ability to provide services to its citizens
FAIRFAX, VA, Dec 6, 2018 – The Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC) applauds the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ passage of one pension reform at Tuesday night’s Board meeting but denounces the Board’s refusal to support all of the proposed reforms championed by Republican supervisors Pat Herrity and John Cook.
The Board voted unanimously to eliminate the pre-Social Security supplement for new employees, offering them the option of offsetting that removal by advancing future retirement income.
However, the Board failed to raise the retirement age from 55, thus leaving unsustainable pension costs in place. This takes money from County services and puts taxpayers at risk for future tax hikes. Supervisors Cook, Smyth, and Herrity voted to raise the age to 60.
The Board also voted to maintain the “rule of 85” (age plus years of service) by a vote of 7-3 with Supervisors Cook, Smyth, and Herrity voting against this policy. The Board voted 5-5 (tie votes fail) to increase the salary averaging period to 5 years from 3, with Supervisors Smyth, Cook, Herrity, Gross, and Chairman Bulova voting in favor of the change. Finally, the Board voted to eliminate the additional retirement allowance, which increases the retirement annuity by 3%, by a vote of 6-4. Supervisors Smyth, Foust, Herrity, Cook, Gross and Chairman Bulova voted in favor of the modification. The changes approved will go into effect for employees hired after July 1, 2019 and will not impact current employees.
“FCRC appreciates the relentless work by Republican Supervisors Herrity and Cook to overhaul Fairfax County government’s unsustainable program but is very disappointed the full Board of Supervisors did so little to rein in this budget busting retirement program,” said Tim Hannigan, FCRC chairman. “The Board of Supervisors’ fiscal irresponsibility continues to adversely affect taxpayers and services, and deserves serious attention by county residents.”
Presentation at the Board of Supervisors public hearing by Timothy Hannigan, Chairman of Fairfax County Republican Committee
November 20, 2018
On behalf of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, I thank you for making this much-needed assessment of the county’s broken pension plan.
For the many reasons cited by other speakers during this public hearing, 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-whack with other government and private company 401K plans in the area, AND
- 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 proposed reforms offer much-needed improvements.
Our Republican 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.
I applaud all of you for your willingness to take up this pension issue and specifically salute Supervisors Herrity and Cook for their relentless pursuit of pension reform. 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.
I strongly urge the Board to muster the political resolve to do the right and responsible thing—to approve all of the proposed reforms before you today as a start toward fixing this pension problem and ensuring fiscal solvency for the Fairfax County Government in the future.
Support Pension Reform at Board of Supervisors Public Hearing
4:30 PM, Tuesday, November 20 in the Board Auditorium
Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax
After years of delay, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is finally ready to make changes to the County’s unsustainable pension plan. In response to the untiring efforts of Republican Supervisors Pat Herrity and John Cook, the Democrat-dominated Board has finally agreed to consider reducing benefits instead of raising taxes.
The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on pension reform at its meeting scheduled for 4:30 PM, Tuesday, November 20, in the Board Auditorium, Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA. Please attend the hearing to applaud speakers who favor sustainable budgets and/or to present your views on this subject.
The Pension Problem. Fairfax County pension plans, which have a $2.2 billion unfunded liability, are unsustainable. Since 2000, county spending on pensions has increased 244% while the number of county employees increased by only 11%. While most private-sector employees no longer get pensions, a county employee with 30 years can retire at age 55 with 90% of salary. Private employers contribute 3% or 4% of an employee’s salary to a 401K, but Fairfax County contributes 27% of salary to the employee’s pension plan.
The Educational Employees’ Supplementary Retirement System of Fairfax County (ERFC) was established July 1, 1973, to provide an independent retirement plan for Fairfax County Public Schools’ personnel as a supplement to the primary benefits they earn and receive separately from the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and Social Security.
Currently, at age 55 after 30 years of working for FCPS, a retiring employee’s yearly pension amount paid by the VRS comes to about 50% of that person’s average pay based on his/her 5 highest-paid years. Normally, Social Security benefits would equate to around 25% of a person’s income earned during those 30 years of County employment at “full retirement” age, now 67 for new FCPS hires. The ERFC supplement was designed to make up for losing that 25% by retiring prior to age 67. In essence, retiring FCPS employees receive 75% of their pay at age 55. However, the County now…