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Fairfax County supervisors eyeing service cuts instead of tax hike

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland,Taxes,Fairfax County

Reduced library hours, fewer polling locations and the elimination of school resource officers are among the cuts that Fairfax County's top appointed official thought would be too much to bear when drafting next year's budget.

Instead, County Executive Ed Long opted to raise residents' property taxes next year by 2 cents per $100 of assessed value, discarding approximately $28 million in suggested cuts proposed by agencies in August as part of county preparations for its fiscal 2014 budget.

The list of proposed cuts was released to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, however, after many members questioned whether deeper spending cuts in county agencies might produce enough savings to reduce or eliminate the need for a tax increase.

"We considered all of them," Long said of the proposed reductions. "We didn't cut any of them."

Long said he included a property tax hike in his proposal for next year's budget because he had "turned over every rock" and found he could not make additional cuts without angering residents and disrupting county operations.

The county could've saved a combined $5 million by reducing library hours, polling locations and school officers next year, but Long felt residents would be troubled by the changes.

He also passed on nixing $95,000 to eliminate portable toilets at all county-operated athletic fields, $300,000 in reductions to county homelessness programs and $18,000 in cuts to bus shelter repairs.

Fairfax's deer management program would continue to operate for $102,547 under Long's proposal, as would the county's traffic safety program to train crossing guards and create alcohol enforcement programs, for $171,013. The county's Marine Patrol Unit, which monitors the county's shorelines for $266,152, would also be untouched.

Board members did not discuss the list, as it was made available to them only at the end of their joint budget meeting with the Fairfax County School Board, but vowed to look at the proposed reductions and possibly lessen the tax hike.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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