Dear Village Neighbors / Friends,
Hefty report today, but all good information.
Fairfax County Budget Proposal – you can see Ed Long’s (County’s Executive) briefing charts at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2018/advertised/fy2018-advertised-cex-budget-presentation.pdf. After a planned series of Budget Committee meetings and Public Hearings, the Board of Supervisors are set to adopt the budget with markups on 2 May 2017. Here’s a brief summary of the major issues facing county not only in this budget cycle, but more so in future budgets:
- Metro – county’s share of WMATA expenses have been funded through modest general fund support, state aid and gas tax receipts and general obligation bonds. But, due to rising costs of upgrades to Metro, county is expecting a significant increase in what we are to contribute. Any substantial increase in our contribution can’t be sustained with existing revenue resources. If other jurisdictions are in the same financial boat – there is little other than raising taxes or reduced Metro service that will balance revenue with expenses.
- Expected changes to Federal spending – has been extensively covered by the media. County receives about $32 million for social services aid from the federal government.
- Removal of certain Federally Funded Programs – no – I’m not talking about Meals on Wheels, but there are other meaningful programs that county will want to keep even if withdrawn by the feds. Issue will be paying for those programs.
Supervisor Pat Herrity and Ed Long spoke about the inability to sustain the county’s pension plan where employees can retire after 30 years of service and then draw not only their pension, but also a social security payment (paid by county) until they reach 67 years of age when normal social security payments take over. A side issue is that many county employees realize they can make more by retiring as soon as time-in-service eligible, draw their pension and their social security-type payment from county and then find another job until they reach whatever retirement age they chose.
Ever since I have attended these budget meetings dating back to when Elaine McConnell was our supervisor – it has been a common issue each budget cycle that we need to extend the commercial real estate tax base. Especially now that we have over 20 million square feet of vacant commercial space and 73% is obsolete. In FY1990 the commercial percentage of total real estate base was 26.8%, but expected to be 19.1% in FY2018. Meaning? Increased reliance on residential property taxes.
But, continuing reliance on the residential real estate tax base does not appear doable given a declining change in what had been an ever increasing home valuations. In FY2015, the total change was 6.54%, but only expected to be 0.68% in FY 2018. But still, 64.6% of expected county revenue comes from the RE tax base. So if home valuations stagnate, expect the tax levy to go up.
County Public Schools receive 52.8% ($2.17 Billion) of the General Fund Disbursements or 72% of their funding. The average in VA is 41% from local government. If county could fund at that average level of 41%, it would save over $800 million. We still suffer the funding formula mauling where we get back only $0.23 from every dollar we send to Richmond. More rural counties receive upward of $0.75 for every dollar in state taxes. What are the chances of changing that funding formula? Very, very slim since none of the rural district delegates/senators will vote to receive less, and there are more of them than urban delegates/senators.
Bad News – FY2019 Budget is projected to be $96 Million short.
Good News – Metro’s Silver Line is spurring new construction, both commercial and residential. Tysons is blooming and adding to the tax base.
2017 Marks the 275th Anniversary of Fairfax County - and County is having a birthday celebration on 17 June in central Fairfax which all are invited to. Please visit the event website www.fairfax275.org for more information regarding the various activities and special events surrounding the anniversary. Also see the attached flyer.
AAA Trash – Did you also notice the small print on your last bill saying that they would only pick up 10 bags of leaves maximum per pickup, effective 1 March. Similarly, they will pick up no more than 10 bundles of branches. So – I wrote to them about the bag count and use of plastic bags. Here’s their response:
Fairfax County retracted their mandate which restricted the use of plastic bags for yard waste. We will continue to service plastic bags as we had in the past. The changeover will happen in the future but no word on a date as of yet. There is a limit to collect 10 bags/bundles or combination of both which has been our standard for the last couple of years. This is an industry wide change that is taking place throughout the Northern Virginia area with the hopes of promoting yard waste recycling at home. We will continue to service those homes that place a few more bags out weekly and will continue to monitor the amount of debris being serviced. Please note, homeowners placing large amounts of yard waste curbside may have their debris serviced over a multi-week period on the Wednesday service day.
Reminder about the terms of our 3-year agreement due to be renewed end of this calendar year:
- Senior rate started at $66.00 per quarter for the first year of our agreement but rose to current rate of $69/quarter for the second year and to $72/quarter for the third year.
- Regular rate, albeit discounted - $78.50 for each year of our 3-year agreement.
- Once per week collection option - $69.50 for each of the 3 years of our agreement.
Many of us are paying less than specified above, but I’m not telling. And, we do have a military clause for early release for those moving on orders.
Each household has a separate account with AAA/Republic. Your Board of Directors simply negotiated the rates not only for the village, but also for Rolling Valley subdivision to our north. You have to call them to demand the rate afforded either of our subdivisions. Demand is not excessively verbiage strong since some of their CSRs need motivation to open the folder to find our agreement.
Verizon Email Accounts - I have spent a week now trying to sort out the move from Version to AOL/Verizon. I think I’m there but asked the Village Computer Whisperer for more guidance. Bob Havey (Rolling Road) who owns and operates D2D Computer Services responded with more information on changing Verizon email accounts: The change of your Verizon account to the new provider (AOL) is simpler than it first appears. Take it step-by-step and everything will work.
- Do not even consider changing to an AOL account or a 3rd party email provider.
- Click on the link in your email to get to the page where Verizon offers you choices.
- Select Keep My Verizon Email.
- You will be forced to change your password, maybe more than once.
- Try to use the password that you have been using.
- If it does not comply with the new rules, you will need to pick a new password.
- When you are done you will log in to the AOL server with your Verizon email address and your new password.
- If you are using Outlook, Thunderbird, LiveMail, or another local email client, it will still work unless you had to change your password.
- Change the password setting in the client to get things working again.
- If you have been going on line to get your email (Edge, IE, Firefox, Chrome) you will go to www.AOL.com instead of www.Verizon.net.
- If you have been using Outlook, Thunderbird, LiveMail, or another local email client, nothing has changed.
- If you need help, call me (Bob Havey) at 703/569-8195.
Teen Job Fair – Over 400 families took advantage of the 18 March Teen Job Fair hosted by many to include our District Supervisor Pat Herrity. Two more events are planned:
- Saturday, 1 April from 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM at the West Springfield High School.
- Saturday, 29 April from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the South County High School
For more information and to register, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/springfield/teenjobfair.htm.
Last night my wife said that we’ll experience 3 of the 4 seasons in the next 3 days; winter cold today, typical spring weather tomorrow and then summer on Saturday. Stay warm; enjoy and stay cool, but do drive safely and stay safe.