Fairfax Supervisors OK Real Estate Tax Hike

Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to increase the real estate tax rate to $1.09 per $100 of assessed value, the biggest hike since 2007.

The vote passed 7-3 for the increase in Fiscal Year 2015.  The rate was $1.085 in FY 2014.

Supervisors Pat Herrity (Springfield) , Linda Smyth (Providence), and John Cook (Braddock) voted against the rate. Formal adoption of the budget is scheduled for April 29.

Bulova said the increase was necessary as Fairfax County, like many places in the country, continues to recover from the recession.

The increase will provide an additional $10.9 million for the county and will mean an additional $25 annually in average tax, she said.

“In total, along with the FY 2015 increased based on equalization, the average annual tax bill for County homeowners increases by approximately $357,” said Bulova. “Our nation, region, and County continue to struggle during these sluggish post-recession years. The good news this year is that real estate values are beginning to rebound. The bad news is that only residential values are rising; business taxes are flat and commercial assessments are a decrease from Fiscal Year 2014.”

Earlier this year, the Supervisors authorized the advertisement of a real estate tax rate for FY 2015 of $1.105 per $100 of assessed value. While the proposed increase is now a bit lower than the $1.105, homeowners will still be paying more as higher home values also have had an effect on homeowners.

Bulova pointed out some of the highlights of the Supervisors’ mark-up session:

  • The increase in the tax rate from $1.085 to $1.090 is a relatively modest ½ cent. The increase represents a $25 annual increase in the average residential taxpayer’s bill. This would be on top of a $330 average increase resulting from rising assessment values.
  • This additional tax revenue ($10.9 million) combined with $6 million in savings achieved on the General County side of the budget is used to increase the School Transfer by $17 million, from 2 percent in the Advertised Budget to 3 percent. With this added percent, the total increase in the School Transfer will be $51 million. An expected increase in state funding of approximately $30 million will help to fund additional School requirements.
  • An additional $10.5 million in savings/reductions are taken from the General County side of the Advertised Budget and reallocated to increase compensation for employees. In this package the advertised Market Rate Adjustment of 1.29% is combined with an additional 1%.
  • Step increases for Public Safety employees will resume for those who are eligible.
  • This package is not balanced by drawing down one-time reserves, thus avoiding the creation of a structural imbalance that would make it more difficult to meet our fiscal needs in future years.

Herrity, who proposed a one-cent decrease along with budget cutting, is not convinced.

“This budget is an over 14 percent tax hike for our homeowners over the last three years, more than 7.25 percent  in this year alone [including the storm water tax increase],” he said in a statement. “Many, including those that can least afford it, will see a much greater increase. I think this sends the wrong message to taxpayers in the year of the $30 million bank bailout and reduced tax rates in surrounding jurisdictions.”

Herrity said the increase bucks the trend of surrounding jurisdictions that have been reducing their tax rate to offset increased assessments: Prince William County – $.103 reduction; Loudoun – $.05 reduction; Arlington $.01 cent reduction.

Do you feel county real estate taxes are too high? Tell us in the comments.

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