BREAKING NEWS — Budget Will Hold Tax Rate Steady

by ARLnow.com April 13, 2011 at 11:26 am 3,664 58 Comments

Arlington County’s real estate tax rate will be held steady for the next year, according to final budget guidance issued by the County Board.

At a work session yesterday, the board instructed County Manager Barbara Donnellan to hold the tax rate steady at 95.8 cents per $100 in the final budget.

“They’re sticking with their initial guidance of no real estate rate increase,” county spokeswoman Mary Curtius confirmed this morning.

Donnellan’s proposed budget had recommended holding the tax steady, but the board gave itself some wiggle room in February when it advertised a slightly higher tax rate. Even without a real estate tax rate increase, however, the county’s coffers will be bolstered in FY 2012 by a 6.3 percent rise in property assessments.

The board will vote on its final budget on Saturday.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    “Arlington County’s real estate tax rate will be held steady for the next year, according to final budget guidance issued by the County Board.” … “They’re sticking with their initial guidance of no real estate rate increase,” county spokeswoman Mary Curtius confirmed this morning.”

    Uh-huh. Yeah, right! From this current County Board?!?!? I’m probably too cynical about them, but I’ll believe it when I see it on my property assessment next year!

    • mehoo

      So you’re saying they didn’t vote to do what they said they did, or they can just ignore their vote, or what? Is the vote fake, like Obama’s birth certificate?

      • Bluemontsince1961

        I’ll believe their votes/words/actions if my property tax for next year doesn’t increase. Until I see it in my property tax assessment, to me it is all talk, just like for all politicians, whether Republican or Democrat.

        • mehoo

          Um, you do realize that assessments aren’t rates, right? And that the Board has nothing to do with assessments, right? And that assessments are based on market values, right? And that if they are accurate, rising assessments mean you are richer, right?

          • Lou

            See. Surprised it took this long.

          • Homey D. Clown

            > rising assessments mean you are richer, right?

            Please explain that one in detail. Higher borrowing ability does not make you “richer”.

        • Burger

          According to some here. It is okay to pay more when the county jacks up your RE assessment because you are wealthier now that your house is worth more. The one issue with that thinking is off course, you can’t pay your RE taxes with the wealth out of your house.

          • The Pikester

            What if the housing market crashes next year? Then your “wealth” disappears but you’ve still paid a higher tax!!!!

    • Wayne Kubicki

      The Board has decided not to change the real estate tax rate for calendar year 2011, keeping the rate at 95.8 cents.

      Individual property assessments are set annually by the Assessor’s Office (not the County Board), and are meant to reflect “market value” as of January 1 of each year.

      • Dems for New Leadership

        And the assessor’s office last year reported it is seven years behind in updating assessments! This in part explains why Jay Fisette’s assessed value decreased in 2010 even though his property underwent major improvements last year. Or why your neighbor with the years old improvements hasn’t had the improvements reflected in their assessments. Or why all taxpayers have been paying higher and higher taxes each year.

        • Oh, BTW… click on TGEoA just above and you will be able to see all of the CB members assessed values.

  • Republicans

    Waaah! I wanted a tax increase so I could bash the county board!

  • Oh no!

    What will the olds and curmudgeons complain about now?!

  • Bluemontsince1961

    We “olds” have plenty of other things we can bash the County Board about! 🙂

    • CW

      Damn kids, driving through my neighborhood on my roads. What, do they think they pay for those roads or something?

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Nah, I’m in Bluemont, not Lyon Village. I don’t give a hoot about the kids driving through my neighborhood.

        • CW

          Not enough bars or cupcake shops nearby for it to become a problem…yet.

          • Bluemontsince1961


  • Homeowner

    I’ve got to give them credit for doing the right thing here. However, I am totally shocked.

  • The rate and assesment values are meaningless by themselves. The end result is the county is pulling in 6.5% more than they did last year. I guess it is better than the 2 past years of annual 10% increases, but only half as better.

    • Hank

      That headline is designed to make you believe the County Board is working hard on your behalf. In reality the total you will pay is going up by about 6.5% which is about 5% more than the Consumer Price Index. Pure Smoke and Mirrors when you consider that the county controls both the tax rate and the real estate assessment process.

      I propose that the the value of real estate in Arlington County be based on either trulia.com or zillow.com and we axe all the county workers currently working on real estate assessments. It is a fundamental conflict of interest to allow the county to control both the tax rate and the assessment.

      • Lou

        Cue the hooting about your wealth growing because the assessor punched in a few different numbers.

      • mehoo

        Comparing the 6.5% to the CPI is kind of inadequate. You can’t expect something as specific as property values in a specific county to match the CPI closely. And sites like Zillow only calculate the value of homes for sale, not all homes. I checked Zillow – it says home values have dropped .8 percent in Arlington in the last year. That’s WAAAY off the CPI, and clearly not reflecting the full market, though I can see why you’d want to use it.

      • Dan


      • R.Griffon

        > I propose that the the value of real estate in Arlington County be based on
        > either trulia.com or zillow.com

        While I appreciate the sentiment, you DO realize that assessments typically run well UNDER actual sales comps, and therefore the estimates listed on the likes of Trulia and Zillow, right? By switching to such a plan, I wouldn’t be surprised if assessments went up by 10% or more.

        • TGEoA

          You couldn’t be more wrong.

          • South Arlington

            Small sample size obvi, but our house is tax assessed at $75,000 less than the Zillow.

          • mehoo

            Just looked mine up – whoa. Definitely assessed less than Zillow’s value.

          • R.Griffon

            Prove it.

          • Protest you assessement. They will show you the comps and that will be your assessed value taking sq footage into account.

          • R.Griffon

            That response didn’t make any sense. Nor did it prove your point. So let’s put some real facts to it. A random sampling of recent sales in the area yields the following:

            — ROSSLYN —

            1881 N NASH ST Unit 307
            Zestimate: $717,000
            11 Assessment: $624,500
            Discount: -13%

            — LYON VILLAGE —

            2715 KEY BLVD
            4 BD/2 BA Detached
            Zestimate: $1.146M
            11 Assessment: $618,900
            Discount: -46% (!)

            1504 N HANCOCK ST
            5 BD/4.5 BA Detached
            Zestimate: $1.63M
            11 Assessment: $1.44M
            Discount: -12%

            — BALLSTON —

            1101 N TAYLOR ST
            3 BD/2.5 BA Detached
            Zestimate: $680,000
            11 Assessment: $578,200
            Discount: -15%

            4332 7th ST N
            3 BD/2 BA Townhome
            Zestimate: $633,000
            11 Assessment: $608,400
            Discount: -4%

            — CHERRYDALE —

            2254 MILITARY RD
            Zestimate: $844,000
            11 Assessment: $807,200
            Discount: -5%

            — BLUEMONT —

            641 N GREENBRIER ST
            3 BD/2 BA Detached
            Zestimate: $654,000
            11 Assessment: $556,900
            Discount: -15%

            — Crystal City —

            1300 CRYSTAL DR 805S
            Zestimate: $675,000
            11 Assessment: $610,100
            Discount: -10%

            1211 S EADS ST 1906
            Zestimate: $568,000
            11 Assessment: $556,400
            Discount: -2%

            In not a SINGLE case did I find assessments that were higher than the Zillow estimate (or “Zestimate”). And in many cases the Zestimate is actually LOWER than what people actually paid. Add to this the anecdotal evidence that neither I, nor anyone else I know has ever paid LESS for a home in Arlington than it’s assessed value, and I think I’ve pretty soundly proven my point.

          • I’m talking about actual SALES values. That’s how the county does it. Not Zestimates.

          • R.Griffon

            Then you’re even MORE wrong. In most cases the actual sales prices are even higher than the Zestimates. Look them up.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      Overall, the County’s General Fund revenues for FY12 are budgeted to increase over FY11 by just over 4%. Real estate is the largest component – but not the only component. Other revenue line items had little, if any, growth.

  • Realty

    The County will still be raising taxes and most people will pay more taxes than last year. A tax increase is a tax increase.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      If they don’t get us one way, they’ll get us with another. Maybe, maybe they won’t raise the property tax (as I said in another thread, I’ll believe it when I see my assessment next year), but they’ll increase some other tax on us. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t trust them any more than I trust the politicians of both parties over on Capitol Hill.

      • mehoo

        Wow, you guys really are disappointed!

        Look, the tax rate didn’t go up. Stop whining. If assessments go up, it’s because you own a home that’s worth more, because you live in one of the richest counties in the nation. Just stop the whining, it’s getting pathetic.

        If and when the board raises other taxes, then you can complain.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Hey, I’m one of the “olds”, and we “olds” love to whine, complain, and be pathetic. When you get over 50, it’ll happen to you!

          • mehoo

            Don’t worry, I’m close, and I’m learning.

            BTW, Bluemont wasn’t Bluemont in 1961, unless you mean the real one.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            I use the name of the neighborhood as it is now called. I’ve lived there since 1961, my family moved there from Ashton Heights.

        • Burger

          Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t the top rate go up but not as much as the County Board could have raised them.

        • The Pikester

          Well, according to Forbes, Arlington isn’t in the Top 10 richest counties. In fact, four other Northern VA listings appear in the Top 10 and one in MD. I think some of us in Arlington are a bit misled when it comes to how well off we are.


          • Don’t worry, once the CB gentrifies all the Salvadoranians out of the county the we will crack the top 10

          • mehoo

            The top 10 ranking comes from the Census Bureau, not Forbes (though Forbes apparently uses Census data).

    • mehoo

      So you think someone who gets a raise and pays more in income taxes has also experienced a “tax increase” too?

      • The Pikester


        • mehoo

          Then does that mean if you lose your job and have no income, it means you got a tax cut?

          How far can we go with this craziness?

  • The Pike

    They are actually PAVING the Pike from Bob and Edith’s to the CVS. BUT, in almost hysterical fashion, the street is single lane and they have NO flag men and are just letting people through willy nilly. A poetic ending to a disastrous job.

    Arl.now – get over there and take pictures or no one will believe me!

    • brendan

      i can’t believe they’re being that efficient…

    • CrystalMikey

      I can’t believe it!

    • KalashniKEV

      I’ll bet it feels like home to most on the Pike…

    • The Pikester

      A shock indeed!

  • 4Arl

    The 6% assessment increase was an average. But residential and commercial differed by a lot this year, approx. 1% vs. 12%. So homeowners are mostly spared from an increased bill. Renters and businesses, watch out…

  • Burger

    The biggest hidden tax rate is really the water, wastewater treatment and trash collection.

    Ever notice that the county went to 5 times a year billing cycle v. 4 last year. They did this for a reason.

    1) It lowers the individual bill so you can think you are paying less event though the overall annual cost went up. You just don’t see the impact because the bill “seems” smaller” but you end up paying more

    2) It gets the money into the county coffers faster with earlier due dates.

    • The Pikester

      I would guess the water and wastewater increase is passing on increased chemical and energy costs associated with treating the waters. Trash collection too, since fuel costs are going through the roof.

      • Burger

        Go back year over year from 2005 to 2010 – water, wastewater treatment and trash collection have been averaging about 12% increase every year. That is absurd.

        Costs are not increasing by that much and from 2009 to 2011 gas prices fell. It is just a hidden way the county raises taxes but the taxpayer doesn’t “see” it because it is in the form of a bill.

      • just the facts

        Um, hello? The County has just completed a decade-long, $500 million wastewater treatment plant expansion (increasing capacity by 33%) and enhancement of the treatment process to meet increasingly stringent state and Federal water output requirements for Chesapeake Bay health. All that work was done within the existing footprint of the plant site, with the plant operating 24/7. The rate increases are paying for that. Just following the law, folks, for the long-term benefit of all.

        • DT

          That should have been paid for with bonds, not an assessment added to water bills. It doesn’t work like that.


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