Fairfax's budget likely won't include raises for county employees for third straight year

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 21, 2011; 11:51 PM

Fairfax County appears headed toward another year with no extra money for its schools, no cost-of-living increases for its employees and perhaps a modest increase for some homeowners' property tax bills under the proposed budget that County Executive Anthony H. Griffin is expected to unveil at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

County officials say Griffin will present a budget that relies on no change in the official tax rate of $1.09 per $100 of assessed value - a tax rate that could still translate into a small increase in tax bills as assessments on home values make post-recessionary gains.

Last year, the county froze employee salaries for a second year, cut $90 million in spending, raised the property tax rate slightly, reduced school funding and reinstated a car-registration fee in order to close a $257 million gap.

This year, county officials have been anticipating that they would have to craft a budget around an expected $50 million spending gap, knowing that the shortfall would double if the county offered any increases in compensation for its public employees. It would be the third year that county employees would go without cost-of-living adjustments or merit raises.

Merni Fitzgerald, a county spokeswoman, declined to comment on the budget because she said it is not yet public.

"It's pretty status quo," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), who has been briefed on its outlines.

Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) said he would not support any budget that increases the tax burden on residents.

"We're in tough times," Herrity said. "We've got potentially tougher times coming with the cuts by the federal government," he added, referring to Northern Virginia's reliance on federal spending and recent calls to curb it.

The county is also expected to discuss whether to exercise an option to buy a waste-to-energy incinerator in Lorton for more than $400 million or allow its current agreement with New Jersey-based Covanta Energy to expire.

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