By Jonathan Wilson
County governments in Virginia are still sorting through the details of drastic funding cuts included in the budget approved by state lawmakers over the weekend. But many leaders in our area are breathing a cautious sigh of relief.
It could have been worse. That's the refrain you hear from many leaders in Northern Virginia.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova is especially pleased lawmakers moved away from the more than $700 million in public education cuts proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
"It looks like the budget puts us in a better place than we had originally believed we would be," she says.
The compromise still cuts $253 million from public schools, but it restores something called Local Composite Index funding, netting Northern Virginia school districts an extra $100 million. Sixty-one million dollars goes to Fairfax schools.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette says he was pleased the education cuts weren't deeper, but he says the cuts are still unprecedented.
Fisette says cuts to public safety, library funding, and money for constitutional offices like sheriff and treasurer will also hurt.
"I'm putting a good face on it because the worst case scenario didn't come through, but there are still cuts being passed on to local government," he says.
Bulova and Fisette say their respective counties will have to raise property tax rates this year to compensate for the state cuts. Bulova says she's hoping residents of Fairfax won't see an increase in their actual tax bills because of declining property values. Fisette says it's unlikely Arlington will be able to pull off the same feat.