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Residents Speak Out About Tax Rate Increase

by ARLnow.com March 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm 2,245 6 Comments

If this were the world of SimCity 2000, computerized voices would be booing Acting County Manager Barbara Donnellan‘s recommended four percent tax hike.

But this is not SimCity 2000. It’s Arlington County. And here, increasing taxes provokes a fairly balanced response between those who think taxes are high enough already and those who take an “increase my taxes, please” approach.

Of the people who spoke at Thursday night’s tax rate hearing, eight asked the board to increase taxes to the maximum advertised rate to prevent cuts to programs and services.

Ten people, a plurality, asked the board to either keep taxes steady or at least not raise taxes to the maximum rate. Find ways to cut expenditures, which rose rapidly during the run-up to the real estate bust, the anti-tax crowd said.

Several pro-tax speakers said they believed they actually represented the majority of Arlington residents. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but what is true is that Arlington’s real estate taxes are not egregiously high when compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

The City of Fall Church’s tax rate is already well above Arlington’s maximum advertised rate. And Fairfax City recently proposed a tax rate identical to Arlington’s maximum rate.

The Arlington board will adopt the final FY 2011 budget on April 24.

  • Well the pro tax nuts dont speak for me and dont speak for the majority. We really need to have a more intelligent conversation here. Otherwise the solution to everything will be NIMBY (dont cut my favorite-son project) therefore tax tax tax. We should view this as an opportunity to shed some of the more silly expenses we engage in.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    Count me in as a Pro tax nut then. I for one am willing to pay for the services and perks that make Arlington a unique and superior place than its surroundings.

    The question for Arlington Now would be what hearing had the biggest turnout: the one looking to maintain and increase spending, or the one about the increase in tax. The answer should tell you what you need to know about where the public is… oh, and the 30 some odd years since any tax or bond initiative has been defeated by the voters here.

  • MB

    Well the pro tax nuts dont speak for me and dont speak for the majority. We really need to have a more intelligent conversation here.

    I’m not sure you start an “intelligent conversation” off by calling people “pro tax nuts”. Are there some silly expenses? Yeah, I think there are a few (I actually laughed out loud when I read the story about Arlington stocking trout, here). But I don’t think you’re going to find too many people willing to engage in any conversation about cuts when you open it like that.

  • A balance must be achieved. There seem to be plenty of people who are legitimately concerned about both the possibility of higher taxes and the possibility of cutting programs. I fall closer to being concerned about higher taxes, but certainly there are areas I’d be more than happy to accept higher taxes on, such as discretionary spending items, plastic bags at retail outlets, restaurant checks, a “sin” tax on alcohol and cigarettes and other sales-oriented taxes.

    I don’t think it would be fair to raise property taxes much higher to make up for the gap that was created when real estate prices dropped. We can’t rely off of asset appreciation as a model for how the budgets will be shaped. Surely we will not see such a boom again in real estate anytime soon.

    There are a lot of struggling home owners here. With a foreclosure rate of 10% and a growing elderly population on fixed income even with a tax rebate I don’t feel that property taxes should be increased much if at all. It only puts more pressure on those who can afford it least. That being said, perhaps a luxury house tax could be considered on some of the most expensive homes?

    I’m essentially thinking out loud here and certainly with such a diverse and intelligent community here in Arlington we can help the board come up with some solutions that help to plug the holes in the budget and allow us to continue to enjoy this wonderful community.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    Unfortunately Alex with the constitutional structure in Virginia localities have very little flexibility or ability to innovate when it comes to the type of taxes and fees they can collect. Its pretty much the property tax or cuts as the available options… and I’m still waiting to hear the specific cuts and program reductions that the anti-tax folks want to pursue.

  • Chris L.

    Count me firmly on the “cut-spending and limit tax increases” side. For those who argue for the maximum tax rate increase, I say, why don’t you volunteer to provide the County with additional funds out of YOUR income? In other words, put your money where your mouth is, lead by example and volunteer to pay more so that those of us who are cash-strapped, feeling the bite of the recession and have had to reduce our own expenditures can live a little easier. But, I guess it’s more fun to spend someone’s money, isn’t it?

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