Like many local and state jurisdictions across the nation, Fairfax County is projecting a budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2010, which begins on July 1, 2009. Based on current reduced revenue projections, the deficit for county and school operations is anticipated to be in the $400 million range.
The projected deficit must be addressed, and officials are undertaking a process to gain insight from residents and businesses about strategies and potential spending reductions for next year’s budget. The challenge is to find appropriate level of services that are both sustainable and acceptable to the community. Contrary to some recent political ads, Fairfax County is not in a deficit now. State law requires that local budgets be balanced; the county’s FY 2009 budget was, and is, balanced to current revenue streams. It is next year’s budget that presents the greatest challenge in recent memory.
Twenty community dialogue sessions across the county are planned to gather comments from the public throughout the next two months. Each community dialogue will feature presentations by county and school budget staff, followed by facilitated small group discussions. The closest locations for most Mason District residents will be: this Saturday, September 20, from 9:30 a.m. until noon, at the George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale; and Thursday, November 13, at the Woodrow Wilson Library, 6101 Knollwood Drive in Bailey’s Crossroads, from 9:30 a.m. until 12 noon, and at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, that evening, from 7 until 9:30 p.m.
Registration for the dialogue sessions is required. To register, or for information about other dates and sites, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/budget, or call 703/324-2391. If you would prefer to submit your comments or suggestions in writing, please complete the Budget Feedback Form online at the above Web address.
One example of the budget challenges faced by worthy programs is the Culmore Support on Suspension (SOS) site that was funded by a now-expired 2-year federal grant. For the period of the grant, the SOS site provided a safe and secure supervised environ-ment for middle and high school students who were suspended from school. A majority of the students who utilized the Culmore SOS site were from the Stuart, Annandale, and Falls Church High School pyramids. Regardless of why they were suspended from school, the program helped students keep abreast of their academic work and stay safe. The Culmore site also worked as an important component of crime prevention, and most of the students came back to complete a successful school year.
A community effort is underway to replace the federal grant funds with private donations so that the program can continue. In fact, the Rotary Club of Bailey’s Crossroads has adopted the Culmore SOS program as a recipient of the proceeds of their annual Mustang drawing. The restored classic powder blue 1966 Ford Mustang convertible will be awarded at the 29th Annual Mason District Park Festival on Saturday, September 27. Log on to www.bxrotary.org/raffle to purchase your winning ticket. The drawing will be held at approximately 2 p.m.; you need not be present to win. Even if you don’t win the car, the community wins because of your support!