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County Board Advertises $1.021 Tax Rate

by ARLnow.com | February 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm | 1,728 views | 45 Comments

County Manager Barbara Donnellan presents her FY 2014 budget on Feb. 20, 2013The Arlington County Board voted over the weekend to advertise a higher property tax rate than that proposed by County Manager Barbara Donnellan in her proposed FY 2014 budget.

By advertising the $1.021 rate, the Board will have the flexibility of raising the tax rate up to 102.1 cents per $100 in assessed real estate value. The Board can still, as it usually does, select a lower rate than advertised when it adopts its final budget in April.

Donnellan proposed a $1.003 rate – a 3.2 cent rate increase that would cost the average Arlington homeowner an additional $262 per year. The advertised $1.021 rate — a 5 cent increase from the current 97.1 cent rate — would cost the average homeowner an extra $356 per year (nearly $30 per month, a 5.3 percent increase) over the current tax rate.

The four Board members present for Saturday’s meeting — Chris Zimmerman was home sick with the flu — split the difference between two different rate proposals.

Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes proposed to advertise a $1.011 rate, an increase of 4 cents, citing concerns about taxpayers who might be impacted by the upcoming federal budget sequester.

“I want to send a message… that if others are being called to tighten their belts, that we will exert the same discipline,” Fisette said. He called Donnellan’s proposed 3.2 cent tax rate increase and spending cuts “a really reasonable balance.”

Libby Garvey and Board Chairman Walter Tejada argued for a 6 cent increase, citing uncertainty about how the sequester might affect county finances and the finances of those served by the social safety net.

“I don’t think 4 cents will be enough,” Tejada said. “Sequestration is hanging over our heads. We have to make decisions now and anticipate and prepare. I want to be as responsible as we can for all taxpayers… including the most vulnerable in our community.”

In the end, the Board voted for a compromise 5 cent advertised rate.

“In this climate of economic uncertainty, it is important that the Board maintain some flexibility in setting the tax rate for Fiscal Year 2014,” Tejada said in a statement. “In the coming weeks, we will engage intensively with our community on how best to balance necessary service cuts with a reasonable tax rate increase. “

The Board also voted to decrease solid waste rates and fees and certain permitting and park fees. After being adopted in April, the final rates and fees set by the Board will go into effect on July 1, 2013, the start of the county’s 2014 fiscal year.

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  • novasteve

    More is always better when you have a (D) after your name in arlington.

    • Hank

      You need to update your argument, lover.

      • http://twitter.com/Dezlboy Dezlboy

        @Hank, yes, it is getting a bit old, isn’t it.

        • speonjosh

          A bit?
          Dude has nothing else up his sleeve. It’s completely pointless to even type it anymore. White noise.

  • ph7

    Tax us at the Fairfax rate. I like nice things and am willing to pay for them. Great schools, great public resources, great community to live in, keep it going!

    • B_Lee_D

      Great way to get people and businesses to move away.

      • drax

        Are people and businesses moving away from Arlington?

        To where? We still have one of the lowest tax rates in NoVa. And we have great services and schools.

        • Term limits 4 CB

          Business are moving away like US fish & Wildlife and National Science Foundations because rents are too high. Feds need cheaper rents so they will continue to move to Prince G and Prince W. Commercial real estate contributes at least half of the Counties tax revenue. Higher percentage of vacancies results in lower property valuation resulting in less tax revenues from developers resulting in less money for the board to spend on trophy projects like super swimming complex which in the end means the single family home owners will pay more and more taxes. Try living in Arlington County on a fixed retirement income when your tax rate goes up because of increased valuations and higher tax rates.
          Bottom line County needs to tighten their belts like everyone else.
          And it should be cut back services to those with the most need. It should be cutting back on unsuccessful art programs, big ticket capital improvement projects and increases to the top county executives.

          • drax

            The county doesn’t set rent rates.

            Maybe you can argue that property taxes make it a little worse, but you’re pretty much off topic.

            And our tax rates, once again, are among the lowest in Northern Virginia.

      • ph7

        People who like low taxes and low services are free to move away. People who like nice places to live, and are willing to pay for it, will replace them quickly. Everyone’s happy. West Virginia has very low tax rates. Pack your bags, tax-haters – Shangra-La is just a short drive away!

        • B_Lee_D

          Or they can have their cake and eat it too by quitting their jobs and living off the government!
          I’d wager that many of us living in Arlington are here for the convenience of living close to where we work, not for all the services that the County provides. The County’s greatest asset is its location – its proximity to DC and the federal government.

          • drax

            Perhaps. But the people who live here get to vote, in board elections, on whether they want more than just location. And they keep voting for people who want more.

    • UYDFan

      Not to sound like a total jerk, but if you like the Fairfax rate, what keeps you from moving there? Honestly?

      If you are ready to pay for a county-operated swim park via higher taxes, are you also willing to pay for a privately owned swim park via admission fees? And if everyone agrees with you, why didn’t someone build such a swim park?

      Finally, is there anything that you would cut from the budget or a proposed program? What if the pool ended up costing 25% more than advertised? Is there any limit to your support for county spending?

      By they way, at least you are being honest. Voters who approve of massive projects year after year and then complain about the cost are suffering from cognitive dissonance.

      • Smiling in Exile

        Ah, the old “love it or leave it” argument. How erudite. I guess “discussion board” in one of the most educated counties in the country means hurling insults and dismissing differing opinions. Count me in, then! Watching the well-off government sponsored thieves of Arlington squirm over the possibility of a small pay cut is great. The millions of unemployed bemoan your terrible circumstance…

        In other news, it’s a good bet that few of you have even been to a county board meeting to voice your complaints.

        • UYDFan

          Wait, are you saying I brought up the “love it or leave it” argument? Here is ph7′s erudite comment:

          “People who like low taxes and low services are free to move away. People who like nice places to live, and are willing to pay for it, will replace them quickly. Everyone’s happy. West Virginia has very low tax rates. Pack your bags, tax-haters – Shangra-La is just a short drive away!”

          Fairfax is a lot closer than WV.

          But like I said, at least he is being honest. Nice things cost money. If county voters want nice things they should be prepared to pay for them. It’s no fun if you are in the minority (like me) that thinks these projects are wasteful but that is democracy.

  • Sheriffs Gonna Getcha

    Excellent News. 5% tax hike in addition to payrolls taxes and income taxes going up. Add in gas prices and we have a super formula for a booming economy.

    • drax

      And my prediction that someone will blithely assume that the tax rate is going up 5%, without bothering to read or comprehend the article, came true!

      • jim

        dude – the article says “nearly $30 per month, a 5.3 percent increase.” now who isn’t comprehending the article??

        • DCBuff

          Who? Our friend from 2100.

        • drax

          Not you, Jim, that’s for sure.

          Let me spoon feed you – that’s the rate it COULD go up, not the rate it will.

    • ph7

      That’s why Arlington is the model paradigm for the future. Great commuter, car-free communities, multi-unit housing all greatly reduces energy usage. Educated, progressive policies allows Arlington to enjoy one the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Keep it going, and don’t worry about the old man telling you to get off his lawn – he’ll go back inside to listen to Limbaugh for the next four hours, then turn on Fox for the rest of the day, until his head explodes from the scary world that is changing.

      • novasteve

        So if Arlington is completely dominated by progressives, are women earning 82% of what men earn or are you forced to admit that the “gender pay gap” comes from choices women make?

        • jane

          off-topic

      • Senior

        Lots of these people are living on fixed incomes that are not going up with inflation or increased costs from the increased gas costs. You too will be old some day. Hope the younger people are more understanding then than you are now.

      • Chris M.

        “progressive policies allows Arlington to enjoy one the lowest unemployment rates in the country.”

        If you mean trillion dollar debts by the federal government to be paid by grandchildren from all over the country, then yes, these “progressive policies” are working to keep unemployment down. That is the main reason this local economy has been propped up.

        I’m not sure if that is something to be proud of.

      • JB51

        Really…a gender, age, philosophy, and intelligence standard to live in Arlington?

      • Just a question

        I would seriously love to know how you can, with a straight face, arguing that anything Arlington County does (or doesn’t do) contributes one iota to the unemployment rate in Arlington.

        Do you think maybe being across from DC has at least a LITTLE bit to do with that?

        • speonjosh

          Uh, yeah. The county has the ability to shape development within the borders of the county. The vision, since the development of Metro, has been to concentrate development along corridors where people can take advantage of public transportation and density to go about their lives without relying on cars, getting stuck in traffic, travelling long distances to shop, dine, etc. All of this has obviously made Arlington a very attractive place to live. So people move here. Businesses then set up to serve the people who live here.

          Without a doubt the federal government employs a lot of people in Arlington and, on the whole, probably contributes more to the low unemployment rate in Arlington than do Arlington county policies. But county policies clearly make more than one iota’s worth of difference.

  • Tax me

    Hey, pipe down! We are getting a lovely swimming pool out of this!

  • newty25

    Excellent work by the board. They’re worried that sequestration is threatening jobs and income in the area and the only answer to the problem is higher taxes. Those guys are really fiscally responsible.

  • courthouse diva

    and don’t forget the trolley, more speed bumps, and lanes painted green for cross-over bike/auto

  • Rory14

    “I don’t think 4 cents will be enough,” Tejada said. “Sequestration is hanging over our heads. We have to make decisions now and anticipate and prepare. I want to be as responsible as we can for all taxpayers… including the most vulnerable in our community.”

    Um. What? Wouldn’t imminent 20% paycuts to many of those taxpayers in your county be reason not to raise taxes by 6%?

  • JB51

    In response to ph7…really…a gender, age, philosophy, and intelligence standard to live in Arlington?

  • Texas Aggie 1966

    I love it! I am going to my employer tomorrow and tell him I want a raise because I am taking my kids to Disney and need more money! No, I am NOT going to cut my expenses so I can afford it! I want that money NOW!…….The children on the county board need to conduct business just like our tax money was THEIR household money!

    • FATKIDSPECIAL

    • drax

      Wow, Mickey, you must be a great salary negotiator.

    • speonjosh

      Actually, treating a government’s budget like it was a household budget would be complete folly.

  • Junior

    Admittedly, a 5+ percent increase in property taxes is ridiculous. But I’m not making any waves. I’ll be retiring and leaving soon, and just need the house of cards to hold up for about 3 to 4 more years until I can sell. I’m betting the freemarket BS economy has one more cyclce to go before things really turn to crap. #fingerscrossed

    • A minor correction.

      We don’t have anything approaching a free market economy in this area. It’ll take a federal government collapse to drive down housing prices around here.

      That might not be too far off either, but as long as DC stays where it is, federal employees continue to be overpaid, and the monolithic buildings in DC are occupied by federal agencies and not condo conversions, housing prices will be obscene around here.

  • John Fontain

    “The advertised $1.021 rate — a 5 cent increase from the current 97.1 cent rate — would cost the average homeowner an extra $356 per year”

    Well, there is the base fee for your new pool membership at Long Bridge (whether you use it or not). But remember, you’ll also have to pay a steep admittance fee each time you use it. Enjoy!

    “Libby Garvey and Board Chairman Walter Tejada argued for a 6 cent increase, citing uncertainty about how the sequester might affect county finances and the finances of those served by the social safety net.”

    So Garvey and Tejada are supposedly worried about how the sequester may impact resident’s pocketbooks, so their solution is to tax them more? Really?

    “I don’t think 4 cents will be enough,” Tejada said. “Sequestration is hanging over our heads.”

    This is the quote of the year so far.

    • ACDC Hack

      “I don’t think 4 cents will be enough,” Tejada said. “Sequestration is hanging over our heads.”

      This is the quote of the year so far.”

      Yeah, it is hard to believe that even he is that slow witted…..guess that I was wrong about that.

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