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Fairfax Officials Disappointed in Fiscal Cliff Bill

Not addressing sequestration puts business growth, NOVA economy in limbo, Fairfax County leaders say.

Fairfax County officials are disappointed Tuesday’s last-minute “fiscal cliff” bill does not address a solution for sequestration cuts that could endanger Northern Virginia’s economic well being.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said she was grateful Congress took action and passed the bill, which keeps the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less that $450,000. It also makes permanent the fixes for the Alternative Minimum Tax and delays government spending cuts for two months.

“Even though it’s not a comprehensive resolution to everything at least people are talking and at least things have gotten started,” she said. “But we’re disappointed that we still have waiting to do.”

Bulova worries delaying automatic sequestration cuts until March leaves the county in “limbo” and will harm the economy.

“Part of our frustration is that the business community is holding back on making investments or maybe filling vacant office space … because they’re not sure what’s going to happen with federal cuts,” she said. “It’s sort of like pulling the band-aid off slowly.”

County Executive Ed Long agreed mounting uncertainties could affect private sector growth.

“It’s going to keep businesses from readjusting and moving forward,” Long said.

Long noted the General Assembly’s 2013 session, which ends in February, would be over by the time sequestration is back on the table.

Working without knowing what the effects of the sequester cuts will be will only hamper the Assembly’s ability to act, Long said.

Long expressed doubts that Congress would be able to reach any sort of comprehensive package by the March deadline.

“It’s not like they haven’t been talking about this,” he said. “That’s what worries me … I just think it’s going to be much more difficult over these next two months than it has been over these last few months for them to reach some type of accord and I sort of find that frightening.”

In an email, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Corcoran said the Northern Virginia business community understands the difficult issues that go along with getting national debt under control, but "when dealing with the federal budget, Washington needs to focus on making targeted cuts, and the defense budget should not carry a disproportionate share," he wrote.  

He added the Chamber hoped Congress would "work quickly to get the nation’s financial house in order and make smart, necessary and targeted cuts to spending and avoid a thoughtless slash to defense spending through sequestration.”

Terrence Dankel January 03, 2013 at 01:15 PM
This has been a constant risk for the County. Personal experience stems back to being counted as a "DOD" student in Elementary School onward so they could seek funds to cover my "cost". DOD and all Federal employment carries risk of non-renewal. County needs to develop other means of resources of income.
David Aims January 03, 2013 at 01:51 PM
C'mon people, let's get real. Can we please stop referring to Defense Contracts as the "private sector" ?? These contracts are paid by the TAXPAYER and, as such, constitute government dollars.
Frederick C. Cassiday January 03, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Our county government is great at coming up with new programs to spend our hard earned dollars on. Not so good at cutting back. Property taxes in this county are absolutely ridiculous. The rest of the country has swallowed the downturn and our turn is coming. Our Board and Executive better look hard at some of these "nice to have, but not essential" programs as well as looking at some serious reductions in force among county workers. I mean do we really need dozens of county vehicles parked in various malls while county employees are buying groceries, clothing, gifts etc., while on "lunch break"?
T-Bird January 03, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Wow Frederick, thanks for the great suggestion :-/ As if the county (except for the schools) hasn't cut their budgets/programs by 30% in the past four years. As if there hasn't been a hiring freeze for the same four years. Oh, and where exactly are these county vehicles in "mall" parking lots on what I assume is a daily basis, and how is it that you know what they are doing? How do you know they are not health or building inspectors not performing their jobs? And why is it any of your business what someone does on their UNPAID lunch break? You know, if you don't like your taxes and the services that they provide, then you could leave. Nobody is stopping you. By the way, taxes are higher in most of the surrounding counties, so you may want to keep going.

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