The Board of Supervisors approved and adopted the FY2016 Fairfax County Budget Tuesday by a majority vote of 7 to 3. Supervisors Frey (R) Sully District, Herrity (R) Springfield District, and Smyth (D) Providence District, voted against the FY2016 Budget.
Here’s a recap of what the adoption of this budget means to our membership –
1. The continuation of merit increments and longevity steps for all public-safety employees on their anniversary dates starting July 1, 2015. This is huge for the membership!
2. A 1.1% MRA for all public safety personnel and general county employees effective July 1, 2015. This is an increase from the proposed .84% MRA.
3. $1.26M to fund the 31 SAFER Positions when federal grants expire. 8 of the 14 ladder trucks will continue to have 4-person staffing.
4. The FY 2016 Proposed Budget includes an $8.57M increase for fiduciary requirements associated with the county’s retirement systems and as a modest investment to strengthen our funding ratios. The additional money increases amortization of unfunded liability from 93% to 95%. If you recall, the corridor for our retirement systems is 90 to 120%. Because of YOUR UNION’s strong work is why we have a stable retirement plan and why the funding ratio is nearing 90%.
5. $3.76M to fund Health Insurance and Other Benefits – this includes an assumption of 10% health insurance premium increases in January 2016.
6. The real estate tax rate will remain at $1.09 per $100 assessed and home values have increased, the average homeowner will pay an additional $185 in taxes effective FY2016.
In summary, this means that Uniformed FRD personnel and FRD Apparatus Mechanics (F-Scale) will receive a minimum pay-raise of 1.1% and over 50% of those members will receive a merit or longevity step for an additional 5% pay-raise. DPSC members will receive a minimum of 1.1% pay-raise with over 83% of the members receiving a merit or longevity step for an additional 5% pay-raise. Our civilian members in Fire Prevention will receive a 1.1% pay-raise plus the implementation of the “New” General Employee Pay Plan.
An area that was not addressed in this budget adoption was the further reduction of the Social Security Disability Off-Set. I have and will continue to go on record that this union and this union leadership has committed and pledged to eliminate this off-set. I share in your disappointment and frustration and the Executive Board and I will continue working with the Board of Supervisors to eliminate the Off-Set. Additionally, the 2 year hold in Step 8 was not addressed in the FY2016 Budget Adoption.
However, there is mention of both the Off-Set and Step 8 in Budget Guidance for FY2016 and FY2017 stating the following:
“Staff should also provide analysis regarding additional adjustments to the Social Security Offset for Service-Connected Disability Retirement. Additionally, the Board directs staff to examine the two-year hold at Step 8 in all public safety plans to determine whether removal of the hold would allow plans to be more competitive with peer jurisdictions.”
So what does all this mean – the Offset and the 2-year hold in Step 8 continue to be on the radar of the Board of Supervisors.
As it relates to our retired members, retirees will receive a .2% COLA, effective July 1, 2015. As a reminder, retirees COLAs are funded from the retirement fund – not the general fund – this is in accordance with County Code. Those retired members affected by the Service-Connected Social Security Disability Off-Set, once again your Union remains committed to eliminating the final 15%. The Leadership of Local 2068 remains committed to all members and their families of our Union.
On behalf of Secretary/Treasurer Ron Kuley, Vice President Colin Flanigan, and the entire Executive Board, we want to thank you for your continued support and confidence in advancing your Union Forward.
A special Thank You is in order to mention Fire Chief Richie Bowers and his staff for their unwavering collaboration with the Local throughout the budget process. Excellent Teamwork by all!
Remember, the FY2016 County Budget commences July 1, 2015.
Congratulations Local 2068!
John R. Niemiec, President