An Independent Voice for Tax Relief
Quite simply, I am running because Supervisor Lusk and the current Board of Supervisors prioritize spending over the affordability of the living in the County. That has to stop. The County budget can be trimmed over the next 4 years to keep the residential tax burden unchanged while still fairly compensating County employees.
Let’s look at the facts. The County ended FY 2019, the last fiscal year before Supervisor Lusk took office, with final operating fund expenditures of $4.3B. After voting to approve a $5.3B FY 2024 Budget, he has now voted over his term to increase the County budget by $1B, and in those four years he has never advocated for even a $1 of cost reduction (although he did vote to increase Board members’ salaries by 30%). He has voted to increase average residential taxes per household (real estate and stormwater taxes on increased assessments), by $1,430 from $6,690 to $8,120, a 21% increase over those four years. Based on that history, if reelected, we can expect the County Budget to be over $6B and average taxes per household to be $9,825 at the end of his term, making homeownership unfordable to all but the well-to-do.
What is now clear is how excessive those tax increases were. At the end of FY 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) had unspent funds of $200M, while the rest of the County had unspent funds (after reserves) of $160M, for a total of $360M. That was equivalent to 14 cents of the then $1.15 (for each $100 of assessed real estate value) real estate tax rate. In FY 2022, FCPS had unspent funds of $240M, while the rest of the County had unspent funds (after reserves) of $200M, for a total of $440M. That was equivalent to 16 cents of the $1.14 real estate tax rate. In other words, the FY 2021 rate could have been set at $1.01 (12% lower) and the FY 2022 rate could have been set at $.98 (14% lower) to still allow for sufficient funding of County operations those two years. It is already apparent that FY 2023 will end with similar amounts of unspent funds.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it is wise to budget for a REASONABLE surplus. But once surpluses were realized, was any of that $800M ($360M + $440M) set aside for tax relief? No, Supervisor Lusk, along with almost all Board members, voted to spend it all. Unspent funds (otherwise known as carryover) must be appropriated (i.e., “carried over”) into the next fiscal year by the Board. Not a single dollar was reserved or otherwise utilized for tax relief. In other words, the Board overtaxed taxpayers and in lieu of returning any portion of OUR money, voted to spend it all. In fact, the Board has a specific policy to spend 30% of unreserved carryover for infrastructure projects and 20% for bicycle/pedestrian access projects, but NOTHING for tax relief. That illustrates the Board’s priorities in a nutshell.
I also understand that tax relief is not the only issue of concern to residents. Here are my positions on other major ISSUES.