Fairfax County Supervisors use County prepared financial information
to determine which programs to expand, maintain or cut. The stated costs of each program, in turn, depend on how the County assigns its direct costs and allocates its indirect costs among programs. These costs also are used to set fees for certain County-provided services.
On March 7, the MCA Board voted for a cost assignment and allocation resolution, which was proposed by the MCA Budget & Taxation Committee. The resolution urges the Supervisors' Audit Committee to request an analysis by the Auditor of the Board of the different methods used to assign and allocate costs in budget documents, audited financial statements, and for other purposes. The resolution ultimately asks the Board of Supervisors to use the resulting information in making future decisions about County programs and services.
The initial impetus for this resolution about County costs was the discovery that the County had charged $345 per year between FY 2009 and FY 2018 to the roughly 10% of County households that use the County's residential garbage collection services, part of the Solid Waste Management Program
, despite the County's stated policy of charging enough to fully recover the costs of providing this service.
Further research led the MCA Budget & Taxation Committee to realize that issues about cost assignment and cost allocation extended across all County programs, because some costs were never allocated to any programs, while other costs were assigned or allocated using methods that might over-allocate costs to some programs and under-allocate costs to other programs.
The MCA's hope is that a study by the Supervisors' Auditor to the Board will shed light on the multitude of County cost assignment and allocation practices, and will lead to improved transparency and better information about program costs in future years, as County officials grapple with budget challenges.