Herndon Town Council reduces tax rate as part of newly adopted budget

Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 3 p.m.) The Herndon Town Council voted unanimously this week to reduce the town’s real estate tax rate for the first time in more than a decade.

At a meeting on Tuesday (May 9), the council approved a decrease of the rate from $0.265 per $100 of assessed real estate property value to $0.260 per $100 of assessed value.

“This council’s vote to lower the tax rate is acknowledgement of the higher cost of living many of our citizens are experiencing,” Mayor Sheila Olem said. “Real estate assessments are up. The cost of groceries, utilities, gas — all are up. Our aim in adopting this tax rate decrease is to offer some relief to our citizens in these economic times.”

The half-cent cut is a change from the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget submitted last month by Town Manager Bill Ashton II, who suggested keeping the tax rate flat.

But under the newly adopted budget, water and sewer rates will increase by roughly 1.5% due to higher treatment and commodity costs, according to the town.

The town is also positioning itself to absorb the town’s rising contribution to capital costs associated with water sewer treatment. Other taxes and fees remain unchanged.

Overall, the $62.2 million package represents an 8.6% spending increase over last year.

It also includes market rate adjustments (MRA) to boost employee salaries, particularly for sworn officers of the Herndon Police Department.

“The council’s adopted budget also authorizes a significant market rate adjustment for sworn officers of the Herndon Police Department, giving the town parity among nearby jurisdictions, all of which are competing for qualified law enforcement candidates,” the town said.

According to a town spokesperson, the details for the police MRA increase “are not final,” but non-sworn town employees will get a 1% bump this July, followed by a 2% increase in January 2024.

The adopted budget will be available online by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

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