Fairfax Supervisors in Line for 27% Raise

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fairfax's county executive yesterday proposed giving his bosses, members of the County Board of Supervisors, a 27 percent raise starting in 2008 after the next election.

County Executive Anthony H. Griffin's recommendation, which was not discussed publicly at the board's regular meeting, would push supervisors' pay from $59,000 a year to $75,000. If approved after a public hearing April 3, the increase would be the first in eight years.

Also yesterday, the board was told that county residents likely will have to pay higher car taxes this year to make up for revenue lost to Virginia's phase-out of the unpopular levy on personal vehicles. If approved this spring, the average car tax bill would be $12.42 higher this year, or $125.41.

The 10-member board, which appoints the county executive, awarded Griffin his own, 4.5 percent raise in January, bringing his annual salary to $213,960. He said the proposed pay raise for his employers was strictly his idea, based on an analysis of elected officials in comparably sized governments nationwide and in the Washington region. He said the proposal recognizes that service on the board, nominally a part-time job, is really a full-time commitment.

"It's relatively minor compensation for the level of effort that this board puts in," Griffin said.

In addition to twice-monthly board meetings, supervisors devote many hours, including evenings and weekends, to meetings with constituents and community groups. They also hold seats on regional bodies, including the Metro board and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Most Fairfax board members hold outside jobs or have spouses who work. Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) is director of community relations for Science Applications International Corp.. Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) said that if his wife did not work as a software programmer, he would probably not be able to serve on the board.

Connolly bristled when asked if he had solicited Griffin for the raise, asserting that he and the county executive never discuss such matters. He said he expected the issue to trigger an unfair round of criticism over "greedy supervisors trying to sneak a pay increase" past the public.

"It will appeal to every cynical bone in everybody's body," he said.

Another board member said that the issue of their pay has been on the table for some time.

"We've talked about it for a while," said Michael R. Frey (R-Sully), the only supervisor whose county salary is his main source of income. "I'm sure [Griffin] talked to the chairman. It's been a topic ever since this board took office."

The proposed increase is not out of line with payments to elected bodies in comparably sized local governments. The Montgomery County Council is considering raising members' salaries to $84,721 and the council president's to $93,193. In Prince George's County, a compensation panel has recommended a 4 percent increase for the County Council; its president is now paid $80,307 annually, while other members receive $75,307.

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