Fairfax County Park Authority proposes budget with potential cuts for next year

A walking path into the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking roughly $8 million in funds to support park operations, maintenance, and capital equipment for fiscal year 2025.

The proposed budget includes a little over $1 million to expand Accotink Stream Valley Park, Blake Lane Park in Oakton, the Elklick Preserve, Mount Vernon Woods Park, and the new Woodlands Education and Stewardship Center in Chantilly.

Several items from fiscal year 2024, which began July 1 and lasts until June 30, 2024, also remain unfunded, including a maintenance facility at Riverbend Park and improvements at Chandon’s playground.

Roughly $2.1 million is allocated for funding to restore park operations, $890,000 of which is allocated to remove high-risk trees and forestry management, athletic field mowing, trail maintenance funding, and athletic court maintenance.

Another $400,000 is allocated to remove bamboo on parkland, along with nearly $700,000 to find operating increases for administration and operations.

Major maintenance contracts are driving large increases in staffing especially, according to FCPA.

The budget includes $3.4 million for zero waste trash and recycling — a critical need as many maintenance staff spend almost half of their work week managing trash and recycling. The funds would include eight trucks and eight compactors.

“We need to have dedicated crews in all of our maintenance areas,” Mike Peter, director of the FCPA’s business administration division, said at a Sept. 27 board meeting, where park authority staff presented a final budget proposal.

As part of this year’s budget process, the county executive directed all departments to identify reductions of 7% in general fund appropriations, FCPA staff told the board at a Sept. 13 meeting.

The reductions can’t include existing staff positions, leaving only FCPA’s operating funds open for potential cuts. Suggested items included bathroom closures and reduced mowing and trail and court maintenance.

After soliciting public feedback, the park authority received several comments urging the county not to cut funding for local parks.

FCPA’s board will endorse the final budget proposal on Oct. 25. County Executive Bryan Hill will advertise the fiscal year 2025 budget in February.