Police salary increase, softball fields are among items supervisors hope to fund in budget

Fairfax County police officers salute (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A 12.5% salary increase for police officers will be under discussion later this week for inclusion in Fairfax County’s upcoming budget.

Other items under consideration in the mark-up package include more money for ArtsFairfax, funding for girls’ softball facilities, and establishing a self-help resource center in the Fairfax Courthouse library.

In many years, shifting revenue, expense, and administrative cost estimates enable adjustments to the advertised budget presented in February, opening up funding for some initially unaddressed items.

County Executive Bryan Hill left about $90.2 million in unallocated funds in the fiscal year 2024 advertised budget, but with adjustments, that has now risen to $110.4 million.

As a result, supervisors are able to submit items to be considered at a pre-markup discussion by the Board of Supervisors’ budget policy committee on Friday (April 28) and a mark-up session with the full board on May 2.

Seven items were submitted for the mark-up package, totaling about $26.5 million.

The biggest ask, by far, is a 12.5% salary increase for police officers at rank of second lieutenant and below from Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity. The raises would cost $26.2 million and come in addition to the 2% market rate adjustment increase already in the budget.

“Budgets should be about priorities and public safety is a priority. We are short about 200 officers; we have had to disband many of our specialty units to staff patrol, and changed shifts which have had a negative impact on our current officers,” Herrity told FFXnow. “It is past time to address a staffing shortage we have seen coming for many years. We can address the public staffing crisis without increasing the tax burden on our residents.”

He added that he’s “very optimistic” the board will approve at least some level of salary increase, if not the full 12.5%.

Last year, the county gave raises to certain public safety workers as part of the mark-up package, but it was a step increase and cost the county $6.1 million.

Herrity also is proposing to reduce supervisor office support budgets by $1.1 million, the same amount it was increased by in last year’s budget.

“This is a microcosm for the illogical spending in our County. Last year, no one answered my question about who proposed the $1.1 million increase for Board office budgets,” Herrity said. “We certainly do not need increased staff budgets, certainly not on top of the 38% salary increase. The money would be better spent focusing on improving access and customer service by county agencies as Board staff spend about 75% of their time helping residents with services.”

Also set to be considered is a proposal from Board Chairman Jeff McKay and Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw to provide $300,00 to reduce the “disparity between girls’ fastpitch softball and boys’ baseball facilities.”

In February, the two requested funding after a recent study revealed a widening gap in the quality and quantity of fields in the county available for softball compared to baseball. The supervisors asked for $1.7 million in one-time funding and a recurring cost of $300,000 for consideration in this year’s budget.

Other items that will be considered at the mark-up sessions in the coming weeks include:

  • Expanding the Opportunity Neighborhoods initiative into Centreville at a cost of $413,000
  • Establishing a self-help resource center within the law library at the Fairfax County Courthouse at a cost of $96,000
  • An increase of $200,000 to ArtsFairfax for operating expenses
  • Providing $350,000 to nonprofit projects that make home repairs and accessibility modifications so low and moderate-income households who are aging or disabled can stay in their homes

The 2024 fiscal year budget is set to be adopted on May 9.

Read more on FFXnow…

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