The budget continues to be the focus of the Board of Supervisors, even as spring vacation is on the calendar. While dogwood, flowering quince, and azaleas captivate us with early April color, meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community seems to focus on just one color – red! Funding for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), the agency that provides programs and services for intellectually disabled (ID), mentally ill, substance using, and developmentally delayed persons in our community, faces significant shortfalls.
In the past, the CSB has been able to use cost management, waiting lists, and non-county funding to balance out potential shortfalls. For the new fiscal year, the service shortfall includes full coverage of the ID graduates, young people who may attend high school until the age of 22, when they graduate ($2.5 million), infant service needs ($1 million), and revenue capture of fees for service ($2.6 million). Without adequate funding, the CSB will be unable to serve a growing population of adults who need day programs or employment services in the community. Especially vulnerable are infants and toddlers who have diagnosed developmental delays that affect their ability to grow and learn. At last week’s budget meeting, the CSB advised the Board of Supervisors that some services might face closure since there is no money to pay for them.
At the same meeting, the Human Services Council, which has board-appointed representatives from each magisterial district, identified support for the CSB as an important priority. The Council views the CSB and its programs as part of the safety net for services, despite the reduction of funding. The state reimbursement for Medicaid, which is designated as the major payor for much of the billed service delivery, is one of the lowest in the nation, and does not begin to cover the high cost of providing services in Northern Virginia. Some of the shortfall can be made up during the Third Quarter Review process for the FY 2012 budget, but additional funding will be required in the FY 2013 budget just to maintain a minimum level of services.
Public hearings about the proposed budget will begin on Tuesday, at 6 p.m., with a presentation by the school board, followed by comments from the general public. Hearings will continue on Wednesday and Thursday, beginning at 3 p.m. each day. The hearings are televised live on Fairfax County Cable Channel 16. You may call 703/324-3151 to register to speak at the hearings, or log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/speaker_bos.htm to access the sign-up form. Budget time provides an opportunity for all residents to advocate for their favorite programs and services, as well as the reverse – limited or no spending for programs and services. The challenge for the Board of Supervisors is to find that delicate balance that blends services and outcomes for all with responsibilities and burdens by those who foot the bill.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org