FTCA's Charles McAndrew and Rob Whitfield in attendance on 03/27/2014
Rob Whitfield and I attended a 2 hour Sully District town hall meeting last night at the Rocky Run Middle School at 7pm. There were less than 40 in attendance. We had Supervisor Michael Frey, Susan Datta, CFO and Director of OMB, Ilryong Moon, Chairman of the School Board, Kathy Smith, Sully School Board Member, Ted Velkoff, School Board Member, and Kristen Michael from the FCPS budget office. The vast majority of the attendees were in favor of more taxes and more spending on the schools. I would say that it was at least 80% in favor of big spending and taxes!
There was much discussion on the need for more revenue. Michael Frey stated that if the MEALS TAX is put on the ballot, he would support it! Some of the attendees also were enamored with this proposal. As Michael Frey stated that most areas such as Arlington, Alexandria, Leesburg, Herndon, Vienna, Fairfax City ALL have a MEALS TAX. Frey stated that a Meals Tax would bring in revenue of $80 to $90 MILLION per year. Frey stated that so far this year Sales Taxes are down. Frey stated that because Fairfax is a COUNTY, they have no authority to implement LOCAL INCOME TAXES. Since commercial development and commercial rents are way down, they now have to rely MORE on the REAL ESTATE TAXES. Over 63% of taxes is from real estate tax revenue.
The School Superintendent requested a 5.7% increase or $98 million for FY 2015. They do plan to receive around $30 million from the State on education as soon as the State budget fiasco is resolved. The School Board requested on February 6, 2014 a 2.4% net increase or $59.4 million from the FY Approved Budget. Enrollment has dramatically increased since 2010 by 15,600 students . 28% of the students or around 51,800 students are projected to be eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals. 15.4% of the students are eligible for English for Speakers of Languages (ESOL) or around 29,000 students. 13.7% of the students are in Special Education or about 25,000 students. The cost for each student in Special Education for FY 2015 is $22,721 per pupil. The cost of $3,481 + the normal cost of $13,535 per pupil totals $17,016 is for each ESOL student. Besides these costs, other cost driving up the FCPS costs are retirement costs of $39 million primarily driven by necessary costs in the state mandated VRS which is $37.5 million and $1.5 million for the FCERS (retirement system), health insurance rate increase of $24 million and step increases for eligible employees of $41 million. Also the enrollment growth for school based resources will increase by $26 million.
I asked several questions: How much does the FCPS receive from the State Lottery. The answer is $23.3 million. I asked questions about the details provided above on ESOL and Special Education.
Rob has some questions regarding TRANSPORTATION concerning the $125 million that Fairfax County will receive from the new funding and that Fairfax County will have $1.4 BILLION. Rob also asked about the $300 million in BONDS. Rob has probably already provided the details on his questions to Frey.
-- Charles McAndrew, FCTA Board Member