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County Board Advertises Small Tax Rate Increase

by ARLnow.com February 16, 2011 at 8:00 am 2,385 73 Comments

Despite County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommendation that the property tax rate be held steady, the county board voted last night to give itself the flexibility to raise the rate by a penny, if need be.

The board will now be able to set the FY 2012 property tax rate at or below 96.8 cents per $100 in assessed value. The current rate — the rate that Donnellan recommended in her proposed budget — is 95.8 cents per $100.

Last year, when the board set the property tax rate at 1.6 cents above Donnellan’s recommended figure, the advertised rate was 96.5 cents.

The county will hold two public hearings about the FY 2012 budget next month. The first, on the budget itself, will be held on March 22. The second, which will be about the tax rate and fees, will be held on March 24. Both meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the county board room.

“Now that the County Manager has presented her proposal, in the next six weeks we will hear more from the public, and weigh the needs of the community,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “Our goal is to deliver a sustainable, balanced budget in April that spends tax dollars wisely, delivers core services efficiently and makes intelligent investments in the future.”

The county’s press release also laid out proposed changes to various fees.

According to the county: “The Board also voted to advertise proposed fee changes including: an increase in the water/sewer rate; a decrease in the residential solid waste fee; an increase in parking meter rates; and fee increases in several parks and recreation areas such as preschool, summer camps, senior adult registration, facility rentals, farmers’ markets, and community gardens.”

The final county budget and tax rate will be adopted in April.

  • lalaland

    It’s good to see we have politicians that have the will to go against what’s popular and do what’s right.

    • Patrick

      How is it right to raise taxes when the budget proposal put forward by the county manager calls for no such increase?

      • Lou

        Pay no attention to the board behind the curtain! The County Manager has spoken!

  • LyonSteve

    Vote these thugs out. We need to send the FBI team investigating Prince Georges County over to Arlington County.

    • mehoo

      whiner.

      • LyonSteve

        YOU pay my tax bill then. My assessment went up. The CB wants to raise the tax rate as well. That’s a double increase. If you wish to donate more to the Arlington Treasury feel free to.

        • mehoo

          Your assessment went up because the housing market is coming back, which means your property is worth more. You are wealthier. If you think that’s a bad thing or that the County Board is responsible for it, I don’t know what to tell you.

          The Board isn’t raising rates yet, just saying it might.

          So chill with the thugs and FBI stuff already. It’s overkill.

          • Patrick

            An increase in one’s assessment does not inherently make one wealthier. Until one can realize that increase in value by selling (no guarantee the market value will match the increased assessment), they are no wealthier. However, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us will be paying more in property taxes next year, and I don’t think it is whining to be upset about that. Especially consider the county is saying they might make that increase in property taxes even greater.

          • Lou

            You’re right, and we’ve been over this time and time again. He just does not get it. It’s like talking to several brick walls at once.

          • Burger

            Don’t confuse Mehoo with facts or numbers. They confuse his ability to be a parrot of the county board.

          • mehoo

            All I’m calling for is some perspective. I’m not the one going around saying ridiculous things like “call the FBI.”

            Excuse me for wanting rational debate.

          • mehoo

            The point is that an increase in home value isn’t something the County Board isn’t directly responsible for.

            Maybe they should cut the tax rate in response, as they’ve done in the past, but calling them thugs because you’re property value went up is a little over the top.

          • Bender

            The point is that you wrote, “You are wealthier.”

            Actually, one is POORER because of the added tax costs. Whether one recoups the added costs when someone sells the property (and pays more tax) does not make one wealthier now.

          • mehoo

            No, I think it’s accurate to say that when the value of your property goes up, you are wealthier. Your net worth is greater. Your taxes go up, but unless the tax rate is 100%, you’re still wealthier.

            I’m well aware that you have to pay taxes now in cash, and only recoup the value of your property when and if you sell it.

          • Burger

            Of course, we don’t tax wealth in the country but income. Once you realize that wealth is imaginary until you realize the gain, you’ll understand how silly your argument sounds.

          • mehoo

            My argument isn’t silly. It’s just a statement of fact.

            We DO tax wealth. That’s a fact. Real property is wealth, not income.

            You are welcome to argue that we SHOULDN’T tax wealth and get rid of the property tax if you like. I might agree with you. But don’t get mad at me for clarifying what’s happening.

      • JJ

        People like to complain. I have some friends that sold their Arlington house in 2006 after owning it for 3 years for over a quarter million dollar PROFIT, moved to Palm Beach County in FL and bought a place down there in a gated community, and now they are in the hole for over a quarter million on that place after property values crashed, meanwhile their house up here recently sold for another quarter mil over what they sold it for! Had they stayed here, they would be complaining about the taxes, but now they get to complain that they are upside down and can’t sell their house.

        • Nevitt

          Very well said indeed. Considering that real estate values are holding, unemployment is low and the County continues to prosper, its a shame that the Princess and the Pea mentality lives on.

    • CeeLo

      Throw the bums out. November is just around the corner.
      Forget You, Walter, and Forget You, Mary, too.

  • Overgrown Bush

    Why would the solid waste fee decrease? Fuel costs are up. Landfill space is at a premium. Recycling is up, but society is more “throw away” than ever.

    • mehoo

      I think most of our solid waste goes to the incinerator on Eisenhower Ave, not landfills.

      And that incinerator produces electricity, so it might be selling power at a higher price.

      • Overgrown Bush

        Ah, true. I was thinking some of our waste is sent to the outer counties for a tipping fee.

        • mehoo

          Could be. I’m no expert on trash.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      The reasons stated in the County Manager’s report on the rate advertisement were “lower projected collection and disposal costs at the WTE plant and increased revenue from the sale of recycled materials, partially offset by increases in personnel and non-personnel costs.” That’s about all I know on this issue at this point.

  • Lou

    Is this officially a tax increase now?

    • mehoo

      No.

      It’s saying that if they raise rates, it will be by no more than this amount.

      As the story says: “the county board voted last night to give itself the flexibility to raise the rate by a penny, if need be.”

      • Burger

        — if need be–

        There is the money quote. Meaning, yes, there is a tax increase coming.

        • mehoo

          It’s not official. That answers Lou’s question. We’ll have to wait to see if you’re right.

          • Burger

            Let’s place a tiny bet. When has the county not raised taxes when given the option. Who do you think is more right? you or me?

          • mehoo

            I never said they wouldn’t, only that they haven’t yet. I’m not taking that bet.

  • steve

    Why don’t the libs just tax breathing? I mean we exhale CO2, and thus are destroying the earth.

    • AllenB

      Some seem to exhale a lot more CO2 than others.

      • GMo

        Hearted.

      • steve

        I hope you didn’t hurt yourself putting the Obama sticker on your car.

        • Hey, you’ve always got a 2nd amendment remedy to fall back on.

          Reverse alphabetical order please.

          • AllenB

            Ah, another member of TroglodytesUnited emerges from his cave.

        • AllenB

          Didn’t hurt at all, actually. Did you hurt yourself bending over to affix your mouth to Glenn Beck’s posterior?

          • steve

            I bet you think Glenn Beck is cute, given you seem to talk about him so much and I neither listen to him on the radio nor watch his TV program.

          • mehoo

            You should have your own show.

          • AllenB

            I can most definitely guarantee you that I have never typed his name on this blog or any other until now. Can you find somewhere online that I have used his name?

            And for the record, no, he’s not even remotely physically appealing to me.

    • mehoo

      Because that’s a stupid idea, steve.

      Next question?

    • JJ

      All living creatures and plants emit waste products that are detrimental to their survival. It’s only by living in synergy with living things that are different from us, and that can absorb or transform our waste that we survive.

      • steve

        Wow, I guess we should all become germans and get into scat, that will help make positive use of our waste products.

        • borf

          I didn’t think Steve could top himself, but he did!

        • AllenB

          I hate it when people discuss their sexual fetishes in a public forum.

  • Burger

    I —wait for it — shocked! The county board ignored the county manager and decided to raise property taxes higher than need be. I mean who didn’t see that one coming right after the assessments came in just enough to cover the budget gap.

    Now, for Zimmerman’s quotes

    “weigh the needs of the community”

    i.e. we need to more money to start the process of our next boondoggle. The Columbia Pike Trolley.

    ” delivers core services efficiently”

    Apparently, delivering core services efficiently means not plowing streets after snow storms but suing government officials in their personal capacity.

  • Jim Hurysz

    Did the proposed budget include a pay increase for County Board members? Maybe that is where the 1% increase will go???

  • NArl

    Maybe if the county board stops spending money on lcoal neighborhood projects like the one in the rock spring area then we would have more money and not have to raise taxes. Oh wait that would mean that our neighbors would have to stop asking for dumb projects that’s not going to happen…

  • DT

    You all have to understand that it is in their blood to raise taxes regardless if it is needed. Its part of the illness known as liberalism. Fear not, the Artisphere is right on schedule!

    • borf

      So the Board has never lowered or maintained a tax rate? Are you sure?

      • Wayne Kubicki

        Using the year 2002 as a starting point, the Board has lowered the rate 4 times and kept it the same once. The years of lower rates were also the years of the real estate run-up, with the average residence value increasing 17% to 24% in those years. The average actual residential tax bill has only decreased once (2007, by $35, a less than 1% drop that year).

        • rcw

          Facts won’t do anything to change the misinformed opinions of the commeteriate here on Arlnow.

        • mehoo

          Thanks Wayne.

          The troll won’t return though.

        • MB

          Wayne, I’m pretty sure that you and I end up landing on opposite sides of many (most?) issues, but I’d love to see more participation from you here (because the Sun Gazette is definitely not where it’s at). Facts are useful.

  • B

    You guys do realize that a 1 penny increase in the tax rate equates to a whopping $70 per year for a $700,000 house, right?

    If your budgets are that tight, you should a) probably not own a $700,000 house, and b) can cut back on at least one Starbucks latte per month and be just fine.

    Just sayin.

    • Overgrown Bush

      In addition to….

      According to the county: “The Board also voted to advertise proposed fee changes including: an increase in the water/sewer rate; a decrease in the residential solid waste fee; an increase in parking meter rates; and fee increases in several parks and recreation areas such as preschool, summer camps, senior adult registration, facility rentals, farmers’ markets, and community gardens.”

    • Bender

      If it really is not all that much (only a penny), if it is not really a BFD, to use Joe Biden’s phrase, then Arlington government can do without the money.

      Rather than looking for more and more ways to spend other people’s money, rather than treating home owners as if they were renters from the government, rather than doing nothing to address the gold-plated pension benefits for government workers, which will bankrupt many states and localities, the Board needs to stop it’s insane policy of spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend.

      • mehoo

        Please show us how Arlington’s public employees have “gold-plated” pension plans. I’m not aware of that.

        • rcw

          Actually the Arlington pension system is on extremely sound financial footing and doesn’t run the risk of bankrupting anyone. If the legacy costs to pensioners was eating away at the treasury how would Arlington be able to secure a triple AAA bond rating?

          “Investment performance for fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30, 2010, of (13.0%), was above the benchmark return of (12.8%), and the average performance of a peer group of public funds of (12.7%). System net assets increased by $125 million to $1.271 billion for the fiscal year.

          System assets increased significantly over the six month period from the end of the fiscal year. As of December 31, 2010, the System’s assets exceed $1.46 billion.”

          http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/retirement/retirementinvestmentoffice/publications.aspx

          • mehoo

            Thanks rcw.

  • Westover

    With the assessments up, there should be no reason to have ANY increase in the Tax Rate at a time of essentially zero inflation. Where is all this money going, where revenue will rise but they have to cut things like library hours? They have cut leaf collection(correctly, down to two sweeps, from the previous three). Really where is the revenue going?

    • AH

      @Westover – if you want to understand where the dollars come from and where they go, you can read the County Manager’s proposed budget online at:
      http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ManagementAndFinance/budget/page79745.aspx
      Its all in there.
      The County Managers proposed budget was bounded by guidance from the Board that limited spending to the level of inflation as measured in the CPI (1.14%) with a couple of exceptions:
      1) to provide increased funding to the schools to cover increasing enrollments (an increase of $17.8M or ~5%);
      2) to cover operating costs for several new facilities that come on line in FY2012 (Mary Marshall Assisted living facility, Fire Station #3 in Cherrydale, Long Bridge Park Phase 1 and Columbia Pike Garage in Penrose (an increase of $3.35M);
      3) spending that was offset by fee revenues.

      The Manager’s proposed budget met all of these criteria – and is basically a flat budget. The County Board has now advertised the upper limit of the tax rate in FY2011 – after budget deliberations the final budget and tax rate will be adopted in April. BTW – the managers budget does not cut library hours – but neither does it restore cuts that were made over the past two years. Again, its all in there – read the Manager’s Summary and you’ll have a much clearer picture.

      • rcw

        Thank you. I love when people posit questions as if the question themselves are facts.

        • Westover

          Yes, it was a rhetorical questions.

          • mehoo

            You may have meant it as rhetorical, but the answer is real. You can’t get away with rhetorical questions that have firm answers.

          • rcw

            +100 Socrates he ain’t

      • Westover

        Well I would like to debate #2, because the new fire station is the only essential thing on the list. But I guess we can’t get back the money already wasted on Long Bridge Park. 🙁

        • mehoo

          You don’t think the schools need to accomodate increasing student enrollment? They can just put the kids out on the grass?

          • Westover

            Schools are in the #1 bullet point.

        • AH

          Certainly the decisions around community priorities and whether investments in providing for our elderly population, expanding recreational opportunities, and providing for enhanced public safety are appropriate are debatable. Its why we have elections. Each of these projects that is coming on line is the results of years of discussion and debate.

          Since Long Bridge Park is a fan favorite on Arlnow just a few facts. What is in the FY2012 budget proposal is the operating costs associated with operating Phase 1 of the Park – which comes out to $158,500 in the FY2012 budget. Phase 1 cost ~$23M, was paid for through capital funding (bonds) and constructs 3 synthetic turf athletic fields, a couple of restrooms and overall sitework for the park. Future phases would include the aquatic center – for which the capital funding has not yet been approved.

        • AH
    • Sheriff Gonna Getcha

      Westover-

      I usually agree with some of the stuff you say, but you’re incorrect on your near zero inflation claim. There is definitely inflation…..

      Compare the prices of the following items to one year ago:
      1. metro fares
      2. health care
      3. gas prices
      4. corn prices
      5. wheat prices
      6. cotton prices

      All of this stuff trickles down to governments and raises operating costs of the county. The Federal Reserve says there is no inflation because they use “Core” inflation, which strips out energy and food costs. Thats fine, as long as you dont need food or energy to live, then, sure, you can say there is no inflation. But in reality, inflation is already here. The borrowing costs for the US Treasury tell you the story.

      • Westover

        Now that we have BJ’s my real prices for products containing corn and wheat have dropped. 😉

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