Gerry Connolly elected to Congress, Fairfax County still in the red

By VA Blogger

When it was discovered that Fairfax County would be facing an unprecedented $460 million shortfall in the next budget, Chairman Gerry Connolly came up with a solution: get the hell out of Dodge. While that solved the problem for him, the remaining 1,041,506 residents of Fairfax County still have a large mess on our hands.

Every year, the Thomas Jefferson Institute goes over this year’s budget and the budgets of previous years to find ways to make the budget 1) more efficient and 2) more accountable to the taxpayers. This laudable effort receives the response you’d expect from a governmental organization: a combination of deaf ears and disdain. Nonetheless, TJI produces an analysis every year. Some of the highlights from this year’s piece (though the entire document is worth a read, follow the link to a PDF here):

It is clear from this analysis the School Board continues to spend well beyond the CPI-student population formula even when spending less than its approved budget. In the past four years, school “overspending” as determined by this study totals $463,707,853—almost exactly the amount of the projected “shortfall” the county faces in next year’s budget.

The Board of Supervisors needs to develop a better financial oversight mechanism for its own spending and for spending by the School Board.

Combined with the “overspending” by the County seperate from the schools, the past four years have produced over half a billion dollars in spending over the CPI-population growth formula.

Fortunately, TJI has some simple, common sense solutions to tackling the issue, including: Public-private partnerships for new government buildings if they result in a better price; competitive bidding for maintenance for County vehicles; prioritizing government spending and finding and rooting out overlaps and duplicates; contracting out IT services; consolidating County and School Board services, like payroll processing, maintenance, warehousing, etc.; and, putting all spending by the County and School Board online

I have two more solutions for tackling the budget crisis I think may help:

  • Lock Sharon Bulova in a closet
  • Hide the key

Comments

  • Pat Herrity for Chairman!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    HERE HERE, LI!!!

  • G. Stone says:

    Mr. Herrity has also publicly addressed the costs associated with the influx of illegal migrants from Prince William County. From a fiscal standpoint if for nothing else,he realizes Connolly and company were asleep at the switch in recognizing the massive costs to schools and other county services.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I’ve talked with Pat several times on the illegal immigration issue, and found him to be exceptionally responsible. He is far from Corey Stewart’s radical positions but disapproves of Gerry Connolly’s welcome mat. On the whole, he’s about exactly in the middle of the two of them–exactly where most voters are.

    More to the point, however, Herrity at least has the tenacity to *acknowledge* the very real impact illegal immigrants have on our local services and schools, regardless of what anyone’s opinion of how to deal with it. Simply admitting that it is a factor would be a huge improvement over the Connolly/Bulova administration that’s willingly turned a blind eye as enrollment and crime increase while property values plummet.

  • Moderate R says:

    I’d love to see Pat Herrity as Chairman.

    In terms of the article, it’s almost impossible to cut school budgets. That’s the third rail of local politics. It’s the easiest issue to demagogue, because who doesn’t want kids to learn?

    The rest of these issues are pretty clearly just good government. It doesn’t make much sense to me why they don’t get implemented.

  • Va Blogger says:

    That’s why they recommend outside groups and independent audits. If they can find ways to cut school spending without impacting education (for instance, inflated administration costs), then I don’t think it’s politically unviable.

    Then again, Fairfax residents have always shown a willingness to pay more taxes to protect the school budget, even if it can be easily trimmed with no impact to children.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    VA Blogger, While FFX County residents have shown a willingness to pay higher taxes, the current economic environment is vastly different from the past. Quite simply, this may be the year even the moderate and liberal citizens say enough is enough. This is the perfect opportunity for someone like Herrity come in and communicate the necessity to hold on taxes, cut spending and tell the School Board they better suck it up. Communicate is the key word, this skill has been sorely lacking in all Republicans for a number of years.

    The FFX County PD had a sneaky furlough hidden in budget reductions for the beginning of next year. At first they were told the public safety would be exempt from the county furlough on Jan 2, now the PD rank and file has learned that if you take Jan 2 off as a vacation day, you will not be paid. I expect to see more of this in the near future. Strangley, you do not get the hours back in vacation – you just don’t get paid. Also, those PD that are not scheduled to work do not get hit by the furlough. Fickle finger of fate.

  • G. Stone says:

    That’s why they recommend outside groups and independent audits. If they can find ways to cut school spending without impacting education (for instance, inflated administration costs), then I don’t think it’s politically unviable.

    By the way where did you get this idea ? We have been researching this very topic .
    I have had this discussion with several folks as of late. Would you be one of those folks ?

  • Va Blogger says:

    Where did I get which idea?

  • g.stone says:

    Third party audit

  • VA Blogger says:

    It was one of the many recommendations of the Thomas Jefferson Institute.

  • g.stone says:

    A few of us in LC have been having this very same converstaion. A third party audit is in my way of thinking something that must occur in LC. Without a drastic shift we are heading for financial implosion.
    i am going to look TJI’s take on this.
    It is good to see that out thought process is in line with others who are looking for solutions.

  • BizOwner says:

    FFX PD need some bitter medicine. They park where they like to get lunch, usually free. But, if you call, they rarely show up. My business was robbed in broad daylight. We got it on video, there were witnesses. But so far from Fairfax’s finest? Nothing. Took me 3 calls to get a police report for insurance.

  • Shpatten says:

    If we raised the taxes in Fairfax County by 10 cents per dollar this would raise more than the amount needed to subsidize the school system’s needs. How can we even think about cutting school programs like Kindergarden programs, ESOL programs, and Daycare. Fairfax County has one of the best school systems in the world with some of the highest graduation rates. Why do we want to compromise this? Why is taxing the people a dime more such a problem?

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