Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fairfax County Chairman's Remarks on Mark-Up Package for FY 2011 Budget

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Picture: Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova

Earlier today, our Board adopted a Mark-Up Package that amends the County Executive's Advertised Budget for FY 2011. The Mark-Up Package that I brought to the Board is the culmination of an unprecedented level of community engagement and I'm grateful to everyone who took the time to contact me regarding this budget.

Below are my remarks from this morning summarizing this package's changes to the County Executive's original proposal. Additionally, attached to this message, you'll find the accompanying Board motions and a detailed list of adjustments. The package adopted by the Board today is a balanced budget that, despite $91.3 million in reductions over last year, maintains critical services, is sensitive to the taxpayer, and protects the quality of life we value in Fairfax County.


Chairman's Remarks on Mark-Up Package



STONE SOUP

As we worked through our budget process for adoption of the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget, I was reminded of an old story called "Stone Soup".

According to one variation of the story: tired, hungry soldiers came upon a little village. When they inquired about food, the villagers were reluctant to share their food stores, worried that their limited supply would become depleted.

And so, the soldiers set down their gear in the village square and produced a large pot. They filled the pot with water and a large stone, then set it over a fire. A few curious villagers walked over and asked what the soldiers were making. The captain explained that they were making something called stone soup, which tasted wonderful, but probably needed just a few more ingredients. He offered to share the soup with the villagers once it was finished.

One of the villagers returned and offered to supplement the soup with a few potatoes, which he diced and put into the simmering water. Another villager produced a bunch of carrots and another offered to share a few onions from her garden. These small but tasty contributions continued throughout the day.

Eventually the soup pot was full of a hearty, delicious soup. That evening, the entire village joined the soldiers in a satisfying feast of Stone Soup.

Last year this time, our country was reeling from the effects of the worst economic breakdown in most of our lifetimes. On this date last year, with property values plunging and homeowners challenged with foreclosures and job losses, we adopted a budget which closed a projected shortfall of $650 million. That $3.3 billion General Fund budget included $90.8 million of reductions and represented a decrease of $91.9 million from the previous year Revised Budget.

We started our budget process for Fiscal Year 2011 well before any dust could settle on the adoption of Fiscal Year 2010. While the number is coming down we are still challenged with foreclosures, more than 700 in March 2010. Residential property values have continued to decline, this year by approximately 6% and commercial property values dropped over 18%.


In addition, as we began the process we anticipated reductions from the State as they attempted to close their $4.2 billion budget shortfall. We continue to be challenged with increasing demands on County services from families and individuals turning to us for help with food stamps, utility assistance, rent and housing assistance and finding employment. These dynamics all combine to challenge us once again to close a projected shortfall - this time of $257.2 million.

As in the story of Stone Soup, the process of closing that shortfall has been one of impressive community engagement, creativity and collaboration among County staff and our non-profit partners.

What began as a seemingly empty pot, is a balanced budget that, despite $91.3 million in reductions over last year, maintains critical services, is sensitive to the taxpayer, and protects the quality of life we value in Fairfax County.

Coupled with a positive formula change (of $61 million) in the Local Composite Index (LCI) - State Funding to localities - our $1.6 billion Transfer to the Schools fully funds the Schools Board's requested budget and leaves them with a $45 million balance for future Virginia Retirement System (VRS) requirements.

The $3.3 billion Budget we are about to adopt is full of reorganizational changes and efficiencies that help reduce the cost for providing services, and in many, perhaps most cases, improves the delivery of those services and programs. Some of the major areas for reorganization are:

* Community and Recreation Services and Department of Systems Management for Human Services
* Senior Services
* Department of Family Services Internal Reorganization
* Community Services Board (CSB) Internal Reorganization
* Systems of Care
* Code Enforcement
* Clerk to the Board and Planning Commission



This Mark-up process amends the County Executive's Advertised Budget and is the culmination of an unprecedented level of community engagement. Community Dialogues were held throughout the County during the fall and early winter. Throughout late February, March and early April more than 20 Town Meetings and Forums were hosted to receive feedback on the Advertised Budget. Brown Bag lunches and Employee Budget Briefings and Dialogues were organized by County Executive Tony Griffin and by our Unions and Employee organization.

And lastly hundreds of speakers attended three days - over 20 hours - of public hearings.

Like the villagers' contributions in the story of Stone Soup, this generous level of public engagement enriched our process and has resulted in a better product.

When we adopt our budget, we are investing in the priorities of our community. I am glad to have had the community at the table with us during these months.


Highlights of our FY 2011 Budget Mark-up include:


* The Budget we are about to adopt is based on a Real Estate Tax Rate of $1.09, an increase of 5 cents.

* It includes a 1/2 cent increase in the Stormwater Service District Levy. Both of these rates result in a net reduction for the average homeowner's bill of $26.93.

* The Budget includes a Vehicle Registration fee of $33.00 per vehicle for most vehicles. Most other localities in Virginia utilize this fee to provide local services

* The Sewer Service charge increases by 77 cents/1,000 gallons, from $4.50 to $5.27. This fee increase addresses aging sewer infrastructure and compliance with State and Federal Clean Water and environmental mandates. Our rates continue to be among the lowest in the region.

* The Fiscal Year 2011 General Fund (Schools & General County Combined) Budget is a 2.7% reduction from the previous year.

* The Fairfax County Public Schools continue to be over 53% of the County's General Fund Budget.

I will now move approval of the separate motions for the FY 2010 Third Quarter Review and the FY 2011 Mark-up.

FY 2010 Third Quarter Review


I move approval of the FY 2010 Third Quarter Review including approval of Supplemental Appropriation Resolution AS 10145 and Amendment to the Fiscal Planning Resolution AS 10901which includes the revenue, expenditure and transfer adjustments and grant awards and adjustments and associated reserve adjustments contained in the County and School's Third Quarter Review and Supplemental Appropriation Resolution AS 09162 which reflects final FY 2009 audit adjustments.

FY 2011 Budget Mark-Up

* I will now move approval of the FY 2011 Mark-up budget proposal. As the Board

is aware, this budget:

* Sets the real property tax rate at $1.09 per $100 of assessed value. As a result of this action, the real property tax rate for calendar year 2010 will increase by $0.05 over the real property tax rate for calendar year 2009 of $1.04 per $100 of assessed value.

* Adopts Article 17.2, Chapter 4 of the Fairfax County Code to establish Local Vehicle Registration License fees for FY 2011,

* Amends Fairfax County Code Section 4-22-2 to impose the Courthouse Facilities Fee on Civil Cases

* Sets the Stormwater Service District levy at $0.015 per $100 of assessed value.

* Amends the Fairfax County Code, Chapter 67.1, Article 10, Section 2, Subsection (d) Service Charges to maintain the sewer service charges on a multi year basis as included in the ordinance amendment. The effect of this approval for FY 2011 is a sewer service charge rate of $5.27 per 1,000 gallons. This is an increase from the FY 2010 service charge of $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.

* Amends the Fairfax County Code, Chapter 67.1, Article 10, Section 2, Subsection (a) Availability Charges to maintain the availability charges on a multi year basis as included in the ordinance amendment. As a result of this motion, the availability fee for a single family residence increases to $7,750 from $7,310 in FY 2010

* Approves the County Executive's recommendations for the FY 2011 Advertised Budget Plan, as Advertised with FY 2011 revenue and administrative adjustments as identified in the FY 2011 Add-on memo dated April 8, 2010, and with adjustments outlined in the Board of Supervisors' "Adjustments to the FY 2011 Budget Proposal" package which follows.


Summary of FY 2011 Budget Proposal

1. Using a $21.7 million Reserve established through agency/ department savings throughout Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 anticipating State Reductions the following adjustments are made which reduce the reserve to $11.6 million:

* Reduced by known State Reductions of approximately $3.1 million

* Hold $7 million aside for additional State Reductions and Critical Funding issues for both the County and Schools.

2. Add additional Revenue from Courthouse Facilities Fee of $96,000

3. Reduce Board of Supervisors' Office Budgets by 2%, resulting in $81,350, which is used to add one position to the Auditor to the Board's office. The Auditor to the Board acts as an Inspector General's Office, and works through the Board's Audit Committee.

4. Use Remaining Balance of $11.7 million for Restorations and adjustments to the Advertised Budget

* In the area of Human Services and as recommended by the Human Services Council and the Community Services Board, a total of $1.4 million has been restored, including:

* Mental Health Adult Day Treatment Sites,
* Home Respite for individuals with Intellectual Disability Services
* Emergency Services at Mount Vernon Center and Northwest Center for Community Mental Health,
* Substance Abuse Counselor Positions in Prevention Services, at Cornerstone, and in Jail Services
* Mental Health Forensic Staff Position at Adult Detention Center,
* Partial restoration for Domestic and Sexual Violence Services & limited- term support for Commission for Women

* For the Police Department, a total of $2.9 million has been restored, including:

* School Resource Officers in Middle Schools
* 50% of Police Citizen Aide Positions at District Stations
* Marine Unit
* Traffic Safety Officers

* For the Fire & Rescue Department, a total of $2.5 million has been restored, including:

* Basic Life Support units
* Seventh Fire & Rescue Battalion
* Hazardous Material Support Unit
* Second set of gear for firefighters
* Fireboat Patrols on the Potomac River and Pohick

* A total of $1.9 million has been restored for Parks and Library Services, including:

* Approximate 3% restoration to Libraries to maintain Tuesday evening hours at all 8 regional libraries
* Library Access Services
* Parks Athletic Field Maintenance Program
* Parks Grounds maintenance staff (including restoration of restrooms)
* Nighttime court lighting and lighting for practice fields
* Parks Truck Driver and Heavy Equipment (mobile crew) positions
* Operation and management at Martin Luther King Jr. Pool

* This budget includes a net total of $2.7 million in Other Restorations and Adjustments, including:

* All CONNECTOR route reductions (except for partial reduction of stand-by buses
* Note: Bicycle Program coordinator position is not eliminated.
* 5 Law Clerks supporting Circuit Court Judges
* Support for Families4Kids to non-profit - to be funded from Human Services Transition Reserve
* Mount Vernon District Satellite Intake Center
* Fairfax Magistrates are transferred from General District Court to the Office of the Sheriff

5. This Budget also fully funds the Priority 1 requirements of the Board Adopted Affordable Housing Blueprint through the use of $4 million in operating revenues from the Wedgewood complex to fund the Bridging Affordability portion of the Blueprint and recommended funding in the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) for the capital projects at Lincolnia, North Hill and Lewinsville).

6. As mentioned above, this Mark-up Adjustment maintains the Fairfax County Public School Transfer at the County Executive's recommended level which is a reduction of 1%, or $16.1 million. Coupled with a positive formula change (of $61 million) in the Local Composite Index (LCI) - State Funding to localities - our $1.6 billion Transfer to the Schools fully funds the Schools Board's requested budget and leaves them with a $45 million balance for future Virginia Retirement System (VRS) requirements.

As a result of the adjustments I have just discussed, and having provided public notice and conducted a public hearing as required by Virginia law, I move approval of the FY 2011 Budget as Advertised, with the changes to Revenue and Administrative Adjustments included in the FY 2011 Add-On Package dated April 8, 2010, the Real Property Tax Rate, Vehicle Registration License Fee, Courthouse Facilities Fee, Stormwater Service District Levy, Sewer Service Charge and Availability Fee and Board Adjustments outlined in the "Adjustments to the FY 2011 Budget Proposal" package which follows. The tax and fee increases become effective on and after July 1, 2010. Copies of the amended sections of the Code are included at each Board member's seat. These actions result in a balanced budget for FY 2011.



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