Monday, February 23, 2009

Ok folks, our CERT is in trouble...

I attended the Fairfax County board of supervisors' meeting today. If you remember, I promised to report on the official presentation of the fiscal year 2010 county budget to the board and the public at large.

Below is the "line of business" budget cut we were afraid would happen. I have the sad duty to report that our CERT administrator Dana is going to lose her job; and with her job loss; the fire and rescue department will not be able to continue support for our CERT program. I will have each of you read the page at the very bottom and come to your own conclusions. You can click on the page to enlarge it.
The page was taken directly off the FY 2010 budget CD provided during the meeting today. The entire FY 2010 budget plan is also available on the internet at:

There are a total of 524 county employees that will lose their jobs by April 27th, 2009 (the date of the budget adoption). There are a number of cuts in this budget, encompassing every department and agency in our county. A very high percentage (almost disproportionately high?) number of personnel cuts come from the public safety sector.

Below are some other highlights of the FY 2010 budget for you.

The total recommended county budget for FY 2010 is $ 5.8 billion dollars, a decrease of 3.7% from the FY 2009 budget.

Funding for the county school system will not be cut; but will not increase either. The budget will remain at FY 2009 levels (FYI-54% of the total county budget goes to the school system).

The real estate property tax rate jumps from $0.92 per $100 average to a new rate of $ 1.04 per $ 100 average.During the presentation, it was inferred that this rate could change, upward, by a few cents per hundred before the final budget is approved.

The fire department will eliminate one uniformed PIO and one civilian PIO position.

The fire department loses their official photographer, and the fire department will no longer participate in the Celebrate Fairfax event (CERT's largest community outreach event during the year, by the way).

Athletic services fees will increase from $ 5.50 to $ 13.00 per participant per season.

There will be no raises for county employees in FY 2010.

County park and building maintenance will be reduced to necessary/emergency repairs only.

Temperatures in county buildings will be raised/lowered to conserve energy. This means offices with temps up to 3*higher in the summer, and 3* lower in the winter.

I urge each of you to take a peek at the budget. The county is currently showing a $ 650 million dollar budget shortfall. The budget cuts this year are broadly based and they cut deeply across all aspects of county operations.

Public hearings will be held on this budget on March 30, March 31 and April 1, 2009 at the Fairfax County government center. These hearings will give us an opportunity to voice our thoughts ( and perhaps change their minds) on these budget cuts.

Today was not a good day for CERT. But these cuts, while being on the table, are not entirely a "done deal".

If we fight this, we may be able to change the outcome. We will have to let our district supervisors know what CERT means to us; what it gives to us and to the community at large. Each district supervisor is holding public budget discussions within their respective districts. As I get the schedules for these district meetings I'll post them to the blog.

If we show up, write emails and generally never let them forget of the importance of the CERT program to our families and communities; they may reconsider this action.

Folks, I don't know about you, but I love the training, the knowledge and the safety that CERT gives to my family and my community.

your (angry but very motivated)volunteer PIO