The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has set the FY 2014 budget’s advertised real estate tax rate at $1.095 per $100 of assessed value, a 2-cent increase from the current rate of $1.075.
Supervisors approved the rate in a 9-1 vote Tuesday after killing an amendment from Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) to raise it another 1.5 cents to $1.11 per $100 of assessed value.
Hyland’s proposal would have hiked the average resident’s taxes $332, but was shot down in a 8-2 vote against the amendment.
Once the Board sets an advertised tax rate, it can’t legally adopt one any higher. Hyland argued that with the unknown effects of sequestration on the horizon, the Board should advertise a rate that would give it room to adjust to cuts and other effects.
“The next 22 or 23 days, for me, creates such uncertainty that it would be very helpful for us to at least advertise a higher tax rate as a cushion and a hedge against what else might happen that we’re not expecting,” Hyland said.
A 2-cent increase didn’t provide the breathing room Hyland felt they needed.
“I think we’re going to have a major struggle,” he said. “If we don’t advertise a higher rate, then we are, frankly, stuck with a proposed budget with no flexibility.”
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) was the only Board member to support Hyland’s motion. She agreed the rate could be adjusted as the county conducted its public outreach meetings over the coming weeks.
“This is about advertising a tax rate, not adopting a tax rate,” Hudgins said. “This is an honest opportunity to arrive at the right solution.”
But the rest of the Board felt $1.11 per $100 of assessed value was far too high, considering many residents weren’t pleased with the original 2-cent bump.
“I am hearing from individuals in the community just about the increase of 2 cents,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said, let alone one any higher.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) was sole vote against the adoption of an advertised rate of $1.095 cents.
He argued the tax increase would be too heavy a burden on homeowners when rolled together with other county taxes.
“I wouldn’t support the budget at this level, and I don’t think we should be advertising this level,” he said.
Tysons residents, for instance, will have to pay the real estate increase in addition to whatever tax is imposed as part of the newly-created Tysons Tax District.
Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) said he would vote to advertise the rate to start the dialogue with residents but wanted to see it go down.
“I do not agree with the county executive’s budget and I hope that we will look at reducing some of the expenditures,” he said. “I will not support a budget that is at the advertised rates, but I will advertise them to get the discussion going.”