Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Audrey Moore is forgoing her $3,000 pay increase, the last installment of a $24,000 raise she supported five years ago, prompting hard feelings among some board members who are taking the money and say Moore is trying to make political points in an election year.
"I'm not going to play election year politics with my office budget," said Supervisor Kate Hanley (D-Providence), who, along with the other board members, is accepting the increase. "I already spend the least of any supervisor from my office budget."
Hanley was not a board member in April 1986, when the board, then dominated by Republicans, voted to raise salaries in four increments from $21,000 to the current $45,000 a year.
Moore, a Democrat, voted for the increase and accepted the first three increments, but she quietly refused the last installment. Moore said she sent a confidential memorandum to the county personnel chief more than a week ago, saying she did not want the money.
"I did it privately," Moore said. "There's no way I could accept an 8 percent increase in a year when people are going to be laid off and programs are being cut. My conscience wouldn't let me do it."
Fairfax officials, facing a fiscal crunch, are delaying employee raises, reducing overtime and leaving vacancies unfilled.
Moore's decision to give up her raise is in keeping with her recent attempts to position herself as a cost-conscious friend of the taxpayer and fiscal conservative. To that end, Moore spent a three-hour lunch on Friday with Marcia Dykes, a vocal leader of an anti-tax group that tried to have Moore and her fellow board members thrown out of office. Moore asked for the group's support at the lunch, but she received no commitment, Dykes said.
Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield), Moore's harshest critic on the board, said of Moore's action on the raise: "I think it's the most outlandish bunch of political grandstanding I have ever seen. I wouldn't insult the intelligence of the electorate by not taking the money."
Even some of Moore's supporters privately expressed unease with her action.
One board member said supervisors think Moore is putting them in an uncomfortable position by making them appear insensitive if they go along with the increase.
Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville), calling the move Moore's personal business, said that the chairman "spoke to one member of the board who told her off."
Because of the responsibility that goes with the job and the long hours supervisors put in, Lilla Richards (D-Dranesville) said, board members deserve the money.
"I think freezing salaries at $45,000 for the next four years is enough of a sacrifice for any candidate or challenger," Richards said. "There are some very wealthy people on the Board of Supervisors, but there are others who need the money."
Moore, who does not have another job, will continue to collect her $41,000-plus salary while the other supervisors are paid $45,000. She said the action was a personal one and would have no effect on the salaries of her staff, including the $55,000 a year paid to her top aide.
Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason), who is gearing up to challenge Moore this fall, said, "My only comment is she certainly took the pay increase the last three years and she does not take it in an election year."