Fairfax City staff proposed a FY2012 budget last night that would bump up real estate tax rates to fund rising county contract costs, stormwater projects and other capital improvements.
Want to read over 500 pages of budget details? Pick up a copy at city hall... or just pour over this budget in a nutshell:
- Total spending will increase 5.8 percent, to $141,637,727, from 2011's adopted budget.
- Real estate tax rates would go from $0.955 to $1 per $100 of assessed value. The proposed budget would mean an average real estate tax bill increase of 8.2 percent.
- One cent of that rate would be used for stormwater maintenance.
- The city's general fund would increase by 6.3 percent over 2011. This fund is the largest portion of the budget and accounts for city office operating costs. It is funded by property taxes, sales tax, business license tax and state aid.
- This proposed budget emphasizes the need for capital improvement funding. Some of these proposed improvements include software upgrades, historic property improvements, vehicle and equipment leasing, police and fire vehicle replacement.
- The stormwater fund would increase by $138.3 percent. City staff urges council members to approve this spending as delaying such maintenance may cause significantly more costs in the future.
Why the hikes? City staff expect the economy to stay in its troubled state. The grim national outlook, along with the likelihood of rising county contracts and ongoing costs from recent bonded improvement projects, make less expensive real estate tax rates a hard sell.
County contract fees for judicial, social services, fire and rescue, and refuse disposal are expected to increase by 4.9 percent. But it's how much the city pays the county to run its schools that makes the difference.
The school budget makes up 40 percent of the city's budget. In 2011, Fairfax City spent $37,267,135, most of which went to paying the county contract. Next year the budget looks to spend $39,458,000, an increase over 2011 of 5.8 percent.
In the last few budget years city employees have seen salary freezes, layoffs and deferred capital spending. Don't expect FY2012 to change much.
City staff recommends adding two full-time positions, a division chief to help with redevelopment projects and the Master Plan for Fairfax Boulevard, and an utility technician to focus on wastewater projects.
Council members have scheduled public meetings to discuss the proposed budget. Mark your calendars:
- March 15: Public outreach and work session - staff presentations
- March 16: work session - staff presentations
- March 22: council meeting - consider real estate tax to be advertised
- March 29: public outreach and work session
- April 5: work session - discussion of budget
- April 12: council meeting - public hearing on budget
- April 28: council meeting - public hearing on real estate tax rate and budget adoption (THURSDAY)
Editor's Note: Check back for more detailed looks at the proposed budget.