Fairfax County budget proposal would lower property tax rate

Fairfax County, Virginia’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a one-cent property tax reduction.

In a statement to the Board of Supervisors, County Executive Bryan Hill said that the proposed tax cut would bring the rate from $1.15 to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value.

The average property bill would go up to $224.15, but that’s $60 less than without the one-cent decrease proposed.

Hill said that in the 2021 budget, which was “established pre-pandemic,” they were able to cut taxes in areas such as sales taxes by increasing taxes in real estate. But, he said, he now recognizes that many county homeowners “may be struggling.”

Even with the property tax cut, residents could still see some hikes in bills and fees.

The board had to make swift changes to the 2021 budget due to the uncertain impacts from the pandemic, so they decided to scrap an increase in solid waste and wastewater taxes, Hill said in his statement.

However, the FY2022 budget proposal has an increase for sewer charges by $30 to $400 per year. It was reduced by $15 in the 2021 budget.

‘Conservative’ spending

As the pandemic goes into its second year, Hill said that he recommends the board remains “conservative.”

The proposal carves out an increase of $14.13 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, while the school board requested an increase of almost $62 million, partly in order to increase employee salaries by 3%.

An amendment in the Virginia budget proposal would allocate $13.4 million to schools for salary increases, but localities must provide $60.3 million in funding first, according to the statement.

“The burden placed on localities to fill the funding gap is simply too great, particularly in times of economic uncertainty,” Hill said.

“This budget builds upon the successful application of federal stimulus funds the County has received over the past year,” Hill said. The county received $200 million through the CARES Act and Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Hill said that the proposed budget does not “assume additional stimulus funding.” But the $1.9 trillion bill in Congress has money for state and local governments, which could provide more money for the county, in the same fashion as last year’s CARES Act.

The statement said that he is recommending the creation of an Economic Recovery Reserve with a budget of $20 million, to “support county and schools’ priorities.”

Hill said that at this time the county does not have “the available resources” to increase county employees’ salaries. He added: “Our employees have served the Fairfax County community with grace and determination throughout this pandemic.”

Board member Dan Storck is holding a meeting Monday at 7 p.m. for the Mount Vernon District to discuss the budget.

On Tuesday, there will be a joint meeting of the budget committees of the board and school board.

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