Virginia county board members advance plan to hike their pay 45% amid cop shortage, crime surge
With inflation still high, Fairfax County residents are facing higher property tax and annual car tax bills.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to move forward with consideration of a proposal to give themselves salary increases of up to 45%, even as the county, located just outside of Washington, D.C., faces a shortage of police in the midst of a crime surge.
With inflation still high, county residents are facing real estate taxes that have risen 7% on average. In addition, Virginia counties assess the value of personal vehicles and send "personal property tax" bills that residents must pay each year. These bills are at record levels due to the high values of used vehicles.
The Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 to proceed with consideration of a plan to approve supervisor salary increases from $90,000 per year to between $125,000 and $130,000. The board's chairman, Jeff McKay, is currently paid $100,000 yearly, according to local media reports. Under the new proposal, his pay would jump to between $140,000 and $145,000.
Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity opposes the pay increases. In a statement on social media, he noted that the county is 200 police officers short as it faces a public safety crisis.
"It is unbelievable that this Board would propose a 37 to 45 percent raise for themselves," Herrity wrote, "when our residents are struggling with high inflation, a 50 percent increase in homeowner taxes over the last decade, and in a budget that does not address the staffing crisis in public safety and other critical county positions."
Chairman McKay, who would see a 40-45% pay increase under the proposal, has a county-paid vehicle. Herrity reportedly said at the meeting on Tuesday that the board hasn't formally approved McKay's use of the vehicle. McKay didn't directly respond and changed the subject.
According to local news outlet WJLA, major crime incidents are increasing in the county. A Patch report said that Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who is not seeking reelection to the board this year, "made the motion to raise the board members' salaries."
The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance said the supervisors haven't earned the raises they are seeking to give themselves. The group also noted that supervisors are able to hold other jobs outside of their board duties.
"For over 20 years they've been raising real estate taxes three times faster than homeowner income," said Arthur Purves, the group's president. "Their spending is out of control. For example, they give half our taxes to the school board without demanding any accountability. The result is that between FY2018-FY2022, the school budget increased $400M while FCPS SAT scores decreased 27 points. Over the same period, Virginia SAT scores increased 14 points."
Purves said that "political rhetoric and mismanagement of the police has made it much more expensive to hire police officers, with the bill passed on to the taxpayers." He added that "tax hikes subsidize and reward mismanagement."