Virginia county board members give themselves massive raise amid inflation, tax hikes, cop shortage
One of the two supervisors who voted against the salary hikes noted that "residents are struggling with high inflation, high gas prices" and a 50% increase in homeowner taxes over the last decade in addition to a "staffing crisis in public safety."
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The majority of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors formally voted to give members of the board salary increases of up to 38%, while residents of the county, located just outside of Washington, D.C., grapple with rising real estate and vehicle personal property tax assessments, resulting in higher tax bills.
The county is also dealing with a shortage of about 200 police officers in the midst of a crime surge. According to WJLA, a Washington, D.C. area local ABC station, there has been an increase of major crime incidents throughout the county.
Despite these issues, the Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 to approve a 30% salary hike for board members from $90,000 per year to $123,283. The board's chairman, Jeff McKay, a Democrat, is currently paid $100,000 yearly and his new salary will jump by 38% to $138,283.
The board had voted 8-2 at a meeting on March 7 to consider even higher salary increases of up to $130,000 for board members and up to $145,000 for the chairman.
Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity, a Republican who voted against the salary increases on March 7 and on Tuesday, noted that the board approved the proposal despite a great deal of public testimony against it at the meeting on Tuesday.
"Despite overwhelming public testimony against the proposal," he said on social media after the vote, "the Board approved a 30 percent raise for themselves when our residents are struggling with high inflation, high gas prices, 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."
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, a Democrat, voted along with Herrity.
Real estate taxes have risen 7% on average in the county. Virginia counties also charge "personal property tax" on the value of each residents' vehicles each year. The high value of used cars throughout the pandemic has driven up personal property tax bills.
Chairman McKay said in his newsletter that board members didn't give themselves a raise directly since the new salaries take effect on Jan. 1 after the next election. McKay's newsletter did not mention that the majority of the members on the current board, including himself, are seeking re-election so they stand to benefit from the substantially higher salaries.
Prior to the final vote on the salary increases, Arthur Purves, chairman of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, told Just the News it was wrong for the board to give themselves such raises, especially at this time. He also said board members are able to hold other jobs outside of their board-related duties.
"For over 20 years, they've been raising real estate taxes three times faster than homeowner income," he said. "Their spending is out of control."
As an example, Purves said the board allocates about half of the county's tax revenue 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," he said. "Over the same period Virginia SAT scores increased 14 points."