In 8-2 vote, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approves massive raises for own positions

March 21, 2023


by Christian Flores

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (7News) — After hours of sharp criticism from residents for even considering the measure, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a massive pay raise for the supervisor and board chair positions — though it won’t go into effect for current members.

The measure increases supervisors’ annual salaries from $95,000 to $123,283, and the board chair’s pay from $100,000 to $138,283. That’s a nearly 30% pay increase for supervisors, and almost 40% for the chair. The pay increase will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024, when the newly elected board takes office, though most current supervisors are up for re-election.

The board approved this pay increase by a vote of 8-2, with Supervisors Pat Herrity and Walter Alcorn voting no.

“The compensation is being considered without addressing compensation promises to our employees. We’ve got a 15 % vacancy rate with our county staff. We’re facing retention issues in multiple county-facing agencies — specifically a staffing crisis in our police department, not to mention paramedics, mental health providers, trash collectors,” Herrity said. “I think prioritizing a board salary increase without addressing any of these, as we heard from our residents tonight, is outrageous.”

Herrity’s remarks before the vote echoed what most speakers had to say during the public comment period.

Initially, the proposal called for supervisors to see pay increases up to $130,000 — or 36% — and for the chair to get up to $145,000 — or a 45% hike.

“You should be ashamed for letting these programs fall by the wayside while you plan on what to do with your 45 % raise,” said one county resident.

Johna Gagnon, another county resident, added: “Lead by example. Where’s your decency, your humanity, your humility? Of all the comments I’ve heard and read, many of which were wrong and unfounded, the one I think that says it best is the timing of this is totally tone-deaf.”

Members of the Fairfax County Board Of Supervisors are part-time employees.

For about three hours, residents sounded off during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying the raises were too high for a part-time job.

“Getting full-time pay for part-time work is a disservice to the thousands of hard-working full-time employees who make significantly less,” said Helga Yunker, a Fairfax County resident.

In comparison, the annual salary for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is $70,916 a year while the Prince William County Board of Supervisors make $43,422. Both boards are also part-time positions.

However, some supporters came to the defense of the board, stating the hours of the position are akin to a full-time job.

“I know from my own full-time experience, this is a full-time job. I’ve experienced those late nights with Chair McKay,” said Nicole Miller, a Fairfax County resident. “Most people are not involved with anything in this county and are just unaware how much the job entails.”

Prince George’s County Council members make more than $133,000, Montgomery County Council members make more than $156,000, and D.C. Council members make more than $145,000. All three are full-time positions.

In addition, Fairfax County’s population is closer to those counties and D.C. with full-time county councils, while being much larger than Loudoun and Prince William counties — which have part-time boards of supervisors.

In fact, with more than 1.1 million people, Fairfax County’s population is greater than that of Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County’s population more than doubles that of both Loudoun County, which sits at just more than 427,000 people, and Prince William County, at just more than 484,000 people.

“I respect the fact there are some people on this board that have other employment. I do not. I never have. I’ve done this job full-time for 16 years because I cannot imagine how I could do another part-time job and do this job the way I would expect – as my own constituent – for my supervisor to be doing it,” said Board Chair Jeff McKay before the vote. “The board does not enjoy raising its salary. I do not enjoy raising a future board’s salary. The Virginia law requires us to consider it only in election years for future boards. I don’t think anyone on this board enjoys that process.”

The board’s last pay raise was in 2015, or eight years ago.

Supervisor John Foust, who introduced the measure, said the pay raise averages out to 3.7 % per year in the time since the last pay raise and is in line with pay bumps county employees earned during that span.

“Salary for the Board of Supervisors has not changed since 2015, eight years ago,” said Fairfax County Director of Human Resources Cathy Schafrik.

Still, that did not stop those still in attendance for the vote from booing the board, with one resident even stating she will run against a current supervisor in the next election.

Currently, county employees are set to see a 2% pay increase.

One current employee told 7News she is not opposed to the board getting pay increases, but would like to see the gap in pay raise percentages be a little closer.

“For me, it’s not as much about whether or not they have raises. It’s whether the county employees also are treated the same,” said Sarah Young, a management analyst with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services. “We are really the ones that keep the county moving. We keep services going. We provide excellent services day-in and day-out.”