Manager’s Proposed Budget to Include 3.2 Cent Tax Hike

Barbara Donnellan speaking before the Arlington County Civic Federation(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan will propose a 3.2 cent real estate tax rate hike when she outlines her proposed budget to the County Board Wednesday afternoon, has confirmed.

Donnellan’s recommendation, if approved by the County Board, would raise the overall tax rate to 100.3 cents per $100 in assessed value for residential property. It would be the first time since 2001 that Arlington’s residential tax rate has crossed the $1 mark.

Donnellan is expected to tell the Board tomorrow that the county is facing increased expenses as a result of more public school students and more county facilities — like the Arlington Mill Community Center — that must be staffed and programmed. At the same time, county tax revenue is flat as commercial property assessments feel the effects of BRAC, which has resulted in numerous Department of Defense offices moving out of Arlington.

Residential real estate tax rates in Arlington 1986-2012 (graph by Friday, Donnellan announced 46 job cuts as part of her effort to close a $25-50 million gap in the upcoming county budget. She has said that her recommended budget will include both spending cuts and tax hikes.

While a rate of 100.3 cents may seem high compared to Arlington’s 81.8 cent rate just six years ago, for tax year 2007, it is not the highest rate county taxpayers have paid in recent memory. In 2000 and 2001, the rate was 102.3 cents.

It’s also lower than some neighboring jurisdictions. This past year, Arlington’s rate was $0.971 per $100 in assessed value, compared to:

  • Fairfax County: $1.075
  • Loudoun County: $1.235
  • Prince William County: $1.209
  • City of Alexandria: $0.998
  • City of Falls Church: $1.270
  • District of Columbia: $0.850
  • Montgomery County: $0.838
  • Prince George’s County: $1.072

The County Board may, as it has done in the past, set a different rate than the manager’s recommendation. Last year, the Board approved a 1.3 cent tax rate increase, to the current 97.1 cents, after Donnellan recommended a 0.5 cent increase. In 2011, however, the Board agreed with Donnellan’s recommendation and held the tax rate steady from the year prior, at 95.8 cents.

Arlington’s overall real estate tax rate includes a 1.3 cent tax for stormwater management. For commercial properties, the county imposes a 12.5 cent Transportation Capital Fund tax on top of the residential rate.

Hat tip to Wayne Kubicki