Unless Fairfax County supervisors cut back spending under County Executive Bryan Hill’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget, tax bills could increase by a hellish amount.
Hill on Feb. 22 recommended holding the county’s tax rate steady at $1.14 per $100 assessed valuation, which combined with drastically higher residential real-estate assessments would soak the average homeowner for an additional $666.
“I expect that mitigating this impact will be a priority,” said Hill, who added that county staff had left about $80 million unallocated in the budget to give supervisors additional spending discretion. One penny on the county’s real-estate-tax rate equates to $29.4 million in revenues.
County officials expect the real-estate tax base to grow by 8.57 percent this year. That includes residential increases of 9.57 percent and commercial increases of 2.27 percent.
Ninety-two percent of residential properties will have higher assessments, Hill said. Single-family homes led the average assessment increases with a 10.86-percent hike, followed by townhouses at 8.57 percent and condominiums at 3.98 percent.
Homes sold in Fairfax County last year saw average price increases of 8.7 percent and were on the market an average of 17 days, down from the previous year’s already-low 19 days.
The bad news does not end there. Personal-property taxes levied on vehicles will shoot up 10.8 percent for an average bill hike of $181, thanks to projected average 33-percent valuation increases.
New vehicles are in short supply and used vehicles are seeing much higher values, said Hill, adding that county staff would like to discuss personal-property-tax options at an upcoming Budget Committee meeting.
Hill’s budget also would fully fund Fairfax county Public Schools’ requested transfer hike of $112.65 million, an increase of 5.18 percent.
Hill’s budget would allocate more than $100 million for compensation increases for county employees. This would include a 4.01-percent market rate adjustment, plus longevity and performance increases that would boost non-uniformed workers’ pay by more than 6 percent and uniformed employees’ wages by nearly 7.9 percent.
The national economy grew by 5.7 percent last year, but inflation also is rising, Hill said.
In addition to inflation, unknown factors that could affect the county’s fortunes include further pandemic complications, the ending of federal stimulus programs, interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve and disruptions stemming from global conflicts.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D) stressed that Hill’s budget presentation was the first step in the county’s annual budget process and that the public would have a chance to weigh in at multiple hearings before the board approves the fiscal 2023 budget later this spring.
In previous years when property assessments increased greatly, supervisors frequently have chosen to decrease the county’s tax rate somewhat to offset impacts on homeowners. Supervisors are set to advertise a maximum tax rate on March 8, with adoption of a budget slated for May 10.