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Fairfax County supervisors increase funding for parks, the arts and more

Kids gather at Lake Fairfax Park for a day of fishing on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to advance proposed spending adjustments to help its park authority, ArtsFairfax and nonprofits.

County leaders approved the changes at a budget markup meeting, serving as a final step before the board adopts the final fiscal year 2023 budget on May 10.

The approved adjustments to the advertised budget, which was presented in February, include:

  • $751,954 and three new positions to support the Park’s natural resources sustainability efforts to help maintain the system’s actively managed acres
  • $250,000 for ArtsFairfax to supplement the organization’s existing grant program for the arts
  • $825,000 in additional funding for nonprofits to cover contract rate increases for direct health and human service providers
  • $6.1 million for a salary increase for certain public safety workers
  • Removal of an additional six positions and a decrease of $804,258 in funding that was initially proposed in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney

“Fairfax NAACP is pleased to see the [Board of Supervisors’] recognition of the importance of parks shared extensively in their pre-markup plan,” Lydia Lawrence, the organization’s environmental and climate justice lead, said in an email to FFXnow.

The park authority had wanted $5 million to reduce financial barriers to certain fee-based amenities, such as golf courses and the RECenters. The $500,000 allocated to the equity program will stay the same as the advertised budget, but the budget markup suggests it could serve as a pilot for possible expansion in the future.

FCPA board members also expressed concern over how changes to a bond referendum cycle could affect capital projects.

“We are glad to see the BOS recommendation to meet FCPA’s natural resource ask,” Lawrence wrote. “While there were no changes to the County Executive’s proposed equity funding and bond movement, we trust the BOS’s commitment in the pre-markup plan to work closely with FCPA and the community to adequately fund FCPA’s future capital improvements and equity projects.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the board will still support capital projects, such as planned Audrey Moore and Mount Vernon RECenter renovations.

ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said the arts agency wants to be able to better serve the 200-plus nonprofit arts organizations that are still striving for recovery following the sector’s mass closures, staff reductions and income loss during the pandemic.

“With the County’s additional funding, we hope to reach those organizations who have not benefited from past emergency relief funding, as well as arts organizations who represent historically underserved or economically disadvantaged areas of the County, and organizations who represent cultural traditions that reflect the diversity of County residents,” she said in a statement.

The budget markup process followed three days of public hearings on April 12-14, where community members expressed their opinions on issues from affordable housing to employee vacancies.

Other changes include a reduction in the machinery and tools tax from $4.57 to $2 per $100 of assessed value. Supervisors said that would help small business and economic development.

The budget will also bring changes to employee compensation, county services and tax relief, most notably for real estate and vehicle assessments.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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