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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
FairfaxSupervisors advertise no change to existing tax rate

Supervisors advertise no change to existing tax rate

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Fairfax County supervisors on March 8 voted 9-1 to advertise a maximum real-estate-tax of $1.14 per $100 assessed valuation – the same rate now in effect – but indicated they favor approving a lower rate after budget hearings and negotiations are complete.

The advertised tax rate, which matches that recommended in County Executive Bryan Hill’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget, would cost that average homeowner $666 more this year because of higher property assessments.

Hill’s budget left about $79.3 million unallocated, which supervisors could use to chop at least 2 cents off the tax rate.

Supervisors may approve a lower real-estate-tax rate, but not exceed the advertised one.


“We are advertising a ceiling here, not the actual tax rate,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D), adding he only would vote for a budget with a lower rate.

Advertising the current rate is the fiscally responsible thing to do, “given what’s going on in the world today and what we’ve been through, certainly, over the past two years – the uncertainty of our economy, world affairs, all these things that are affecting us,” McKay said.

The advertised rate will give supervisors flexibility against unexpected challenges during the next two months of budget negotiations, he said.

Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) agreed, citing county officials’ quick rewriting of the proposed budget two years ago after the pandemic struck.

Gross favored balancing employees’ pay needs with the travails being faced by county residents.

“Yes, we’re struggling on compensation items and so forth, but our taxpayers are struggling on incredibly increased assessments on their properties,” she said.

Residential properties in the county have been assessed an average of 9.57 percent more this year, which commercial properties – led by a residential element, apartments – went up an average of 2.27 percent.

Supervisors’ annual budget discussions usually feature barbs aimed at Richmond, and this year’s was no different.

Gross blamed the General Assembly for not giving the county additional opportunities to diversify its revenues.

State lawmakers “tweak around the edges very, very little and then look at other ways to remove revenue from us,” she said. “So we are stuck with a tax structure on property that dates to 1742 [the year of the county’s founding]. Apparently, if it was good enough for [Thomas] Jefferson, it’s good enough for us today. And that’s not the case at all.”

Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee) also favored adoption of a lower real-estate-tax rate this spring and said he hoped supervisors would reduce the personal-property tax, given the surge in vehicle assessments.

The board’s lone Republican, Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R-Springfield), cast the sole vote against advertising the $1.14 rate. While he did not comment during the board’s discussion, he lambasted the decision in a online newsletter to constituents, saying the nearly $80 million in unallocated funds already provided needed flexibility.

“We need to fund critical areas, like police compensation as I proposed at the last meeting, reduce spending in non-critical areas and stop adding new programs out of the budget cycle,” Herrity wrote.

The supervisors’ approved advertisement also included proposed assessment increases for refuse-collection services (from $400 per household unit to $475) and refuse-disposal services (from $66 per ton to $70).

The board will hold budget public hearings April 12 through 14, hold a markup session April 26 and is slated to adopt the fiscal 2023 budget May 10.

The fiscal 2023 budget will take effect July 1; tax rates will be retroactive to the start of the calendar year.

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