Up to 5,000 homeowers in Fairfax County may force foreclosure this yeara dramatic increase over previous years, said Gerry Connolly, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said Monday.
Speaking to Fairfax County Rotarians Friday at their weekly meeting at Baileys Crossroads Athens Restaurant, Connolly focused on the impact that a declining national economy will have on home ownership and the Fairfax County Public School system.
Overall, Fairfax County is in good shape, Connolly said. Jobs are being created, employers are still growing their companies, and the unemployment rate is 2 percent. Yet problems in the subprime lending mortgage market have resulted in a correction in residential real estate. He said that county planners project 5,000 foreclosures this year.
Average home assessments have declined by 3.8%. He said that this decline is significant because property taxes account for 60% of the countys revenues. Commercial real estate is growing by 7%, but it grew by 14% last year. Also, the county faces declining sales tax revenue.
While other county agencies face budget cuts, Connolly supports the same level of school funding for FY 2009 that the schools received last fiscal year. It will be a tough budget for the schools because of a projected increase in the student population and the $17 million cost to administer No Child Left Behind which, Connolly underscored, is an unfunded federal mandate.
The Fairfax County School Board has proposed a budget increase of 4% that includes an increase in Cost of Living Adjustments for teachers. While sympathetic that additional pay for teachers is a worthwhile investment, Connolly expressed concern about the overall level of increase in the budget proposed by the Superintendent and School Board.
He also addressed regional transportation, noting that there has not been a net increase in state funding for Northern Virginia transportation in 27 years and he observed, thats not right. He believes that the special session of the General Assembly to deal with transportation, scheduled for April 22, will be contentious.
Connolly said that transportation funding is a state responsibility and that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority was acting at the express direction of the General Assembly to impose new fees for transportation projects.
Recently, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that delegation of power unconstitutional.