The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will get its first salary increase in eight years, starting next January.
The current board voted 8-2 last night (Tuesday) to raise the pay to $123,283 for a supervisor position and to $138,283 for the chairman — slightly lower than the ranges that were proposed on March 7.
Based on staff calculations, the approved increase for board members is in line with what general county employees received, on average, in merit and market rate adjustments since the board last got a raise in 2015, according to Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust.
“Supervisor compensation should be set at a level that would enable anyone to serve regardless of personal circumstances. To advance that goal, I think, is appropriate,” Foust said before putting the motion up for a vote.
The vote came after a public hearing that lasted over two hours, with some speakers becoming emotional as they shared stories of how they’ve struggled with the area’s rising cost-of-living or how employee vacancies and hiring challenges have affected county services, from parks to support for foster care families.
Aside from one Braddock District resident who suggested they would “not be out of line,” considering inflation over the past eight years, all the speakers voiced opposition to the originally proposed raises that could’ve increased supervisor salaries up to $130,000 and the chairman’s up to $145,000.
“Too many are just getting by, and others are on the verge of falling into crisis,” Carolyn Bivens said. “Respectfully, in my opinion, the case has not been made for making the Board of Supervisors positions full time. More importantly, a 35 to 45% increase would be viewed as tone-deaf in this environment.”
Some said they support the board getting pay raises, but the amounts advertised were “insulting” when the county is only proposing 2% market rate adjustments for workers in its next budget, rather than the 5% that was forecast.
Other jurisdictions in Virginia are advertising MRA increases of up to 6-9%, according to Fairfax Workers Coalition Executive Director David Lyons.
He acknowledged that Virginia law requires a different process for adjusting the compensation of elected officials than for other public employees, but the proposal created a perception “that you care more about yourselves than you do your workers.”
“What we do have is a shortage of human service workers. We have a shortage of cops. We have a shortage in solid waste collection that is causing the county to contract out good jobs,” he said. “And in the case of all these jobs, citizens will suffer as the vacancies grow, as the quality drops and as real experience keeps going out the door. That’s why this proposal struck people as wrong.” Read More
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors isn’t holding a public hearing on its proposed salary increases until Tuesday (March 21), but some county workers have already made their opposition known.
A union representing over 2,000 county government employees criticized the proposal as a blow to workers, whose projected pay raises aren’t expected to be fully funded in the county’s next budget.
“Despite our calls for wage fairness for county employees, it appears the County has another priority — raises for politicians,” SEIU Virginia 512 Fairfax President Tammie Wondong said. “A meager 2% raise combined with the crushing weight of wage compression has left us feeling devalued. When employees have to work multiple jobs to get by or can’t afford to live in the county, it’s clear change is needed.”
With 33 years of work for the county under her belt, Wondong says the disparity between what the board is considering for itself compared to employees illustrates the need for “a union contract to achieve pay fairness.”
The Board of Supervisors approved collective bargaining in October 2021, but the Fire and Rescue Department is the only unit to officially elect a union representative so far.
Put forward by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust on March 7, the raises would push the salaries for board members up from $95,000 to $124,000-130,000 per year and from $100,000 to $140,000-145,000 a year for the board chair.
The high end of those ranges would amount to pay bumps of nearly 37% for supervisors and 45% for the chair. Both positions last got raises in 2015.
Foust, who’s retiring at the end of December, says higher compensation will encourage candidates to run for supervisor, a position that carries full-time commitments but is treated as a part-time job in Virginia.
As I leave, I know it is critically important that we continue to attract great candidates from all backgrounds and stages of life to serve on the Board. The opportunity to serve is itself very rewarding. However, I believe it is in the best interest of the County that Supervisor compensation be set at a level that will enable anyone to serve regardless of their personal circumstances, and not just those who are wealthy or have other sources of income. I believe that increasing Supervisor pay for the first time in 8 years will advance that goal. I recognize that others have raised concerns and I look forward to the public hearing that will be held on March 21.
“I hope that through my service I have demonstrated that I care very much about the residents and employees of Fairfax County,” he said in a statement to FFXnow.
However, the challenge of affording housing, child care and other living expenses that some supervisors mentioned during their March 7 meeting also poses an obstacle to other county workers, like teachers and police, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President David Walrod said.
About 1 in 7 Fairfax County employees can’t afford to live where they work, according to a 2021 analysis by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI), a Richmond-based think tank. Read More
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Over the past two years, salaries have ticked up for local elected officials across Northern Virginia, and Fairfax County doesn’t want to get left out.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 today (Tuesday) to consider raising the annual pay to somewhere in the $125,000 to $130,000 range for board members and up to $140,000 to $145,000 for the chairman at a public hearing later this month.
Current Board Chair Jeff McKay earns $100,000 per year, while the supervisors earn $95,000 a year.
“I recognize all the challenges we have with compensation,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who introduced the motion. “We’re all committed to addressing them as best we can, but I just think we should be able to move forward with this and ensure future board are adequately compensated.”
In accordance with Virginia law, the new salaries would go into effect when a new board takes office on Jan. 1, 2024, if they’re approved. The Board of Supervisors last got a pay raise in 2015.
According to data collected by staff, Fairfax County pays its board chair and supervisors more than any other locality in Northern Virginia, where the next highest salaries can be found in Loudoun County. On the low end of the scale, Alexandria City Council members receive just $37,500, and its chair gets $40,000.
The proposed ranges would bring Fairfax County closer to D.C. and Maryland, where legislators are compensated as full-time employees. In Virginia, even state lawmakers officially work part-time, an approach that some argue is outdated and untenable.
Foust, who is retiring after this year, said he views his position as a full-time job, noting that supervisors participate in regional groups like the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and are “rightly” expected to be responsive around the clock, thanks to the availability of email, texting and social media.
From Foust’s board matter:
A reasonable compensation increase recognizes the growing responsibilities and expectations of this job and will help Fairfax County attract Board members who are able to meet those demands, reflect the age, gender, and racial diversity of our County, and who do not need to rely on outside employment or personal wealth to do so. Compensation should not be a barrier to run for, or serve in, public office.
However, some board members balked at the idea of raising their own salaries at a time when the county is grappling with high real estate taxes and inflation.
While agreeing that the life of a supervisor is busy, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity lamented that board raises are being considered when the county’s starting pay for police officers is reportedly the lowest in the D.C. region, according to ABC7.
He also noted that the budget for fiscal year 2023, which began on July 1, allocated an additional $1.1 million to cover personnel and operating expenses for the chair and district superviors offices. Read More
The topic of pay for the Herndon Town Council is on the legislative body’s docket again.
After instituting the first pay increase in nearly 15 years for the 2023-2024 term, the council is considering the possibility of reducing pay to previous levels.
The move, pitched by Vice Mayor Clark Hedrick, is in response to fiscal constraints and the current economic climate. The discussion is in the early phases of the legislative process.
“The Town of Herndon is facing continued challenges in maintaining its labor force, which could, in part be addressed through retention bonuses, incentives for prospective employees, higher cost-of-living adjustments, and base pay increases,” meeting materials said.
The memo also flags “significant revenue uncertainty” rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic to the town’s tax revenue streams. Specifically, the proposal cites rising energy costs, record-high inflation and the increase of tax bills across the town.
The proposal would put council pay at $4,000 for council members and $6,000 for the mayor through Jan. 1, 2025. After that, pay would return to $15,000 per year for the mayor and $10,000 per year for council members, according to the proposal.
Hedrick argues that the proposal would not significantly impact the quality of candidates that run for open seats.
“The Council is made of up public servants and recent Town elections have seen no shortage of qualified candidates seeking the office of either mayor or council member,” the memo says.
Before pay increases went into effect this year, the council was among the lowest paid bodies across local jurisdictions — even those that are somewhat smaller than the town’s population of roughly 24,300 people.
Before the salary increases approved last year, council members were paid $4,000 per year — a little over $6,000 below the average of jurisdictions in Virginia. The mayor received $6,000 per year — also $6,000 less than the state average.
In comparison, the City of Fairfax — which has a comparable population of 24,000 — pays $12,000 a year to council members and $13,000 for the mayoral position, according to town materials.
Legislators in the City of Manassas have the highest pay — $15,579 for council members and $20,000 for mayor — although the city’s population stands at more than 41,000.
Hedricks did not return a request for comment from FFXnow. The council is expected to discuss the matter at a meeting tonight (Tuesday).
Mayor Sheila Olem cast the lone dissenting vote against last year’s proposal to increase council pay, calling the plan too big of a raise.