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Supervisor McKay Launches Effort to Explain County Budget Process Effort could create interactive online guide and new chapter in citizens' handbook.

Published on: 
Fri, 06/15/2012
Media Source: 
Connection Newspapers

McKAY SAID THE EFFORT to help citizens understand the budget process was prompted by dozens of calls from parents asking him to support specific spending items for the school system. Each time, McKay explained that the supervisors approve a sum of money to the Fairfax County Public Schools, which is then the domain of the independently elected School Board. Then, a few days later, he’ll get a similar call asking the same question.

“We’re not saying that the money is being spent improperly,” said Suzette Kern, chairwoman of an advisory committee McKay appointed to look at the situation. “But when we look at the school, there’s very little transparency.”

Recently, the county’s Community Services Board has experienced a $9 million shortfall as a result of state and federal cutbacks. With the sluggish economy continuing to cause problems for many people, demand for services has increased in recent years. But sources of funding have dwindled, creating a problem for Fairfax County. That difficulty was compounded by the timing because Fairfax County officials learned of the reduced levels of federal and state funding after the county’s budget had already been adopted.

“The budget process is not easy to understand,” said Ed Batton, member of a task force McKay put together to investigate the problem. “A lot of people in Fairfax County don’t have a full appreciation for who is responsible for what, and we think something needs to be done about that.”

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