The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance (FCTA) sent the following bulletin to members on March 29:
On March 9, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which is deciding on next year’s county budget, advertised a 4.25% real estate tax hike, which would cost the average homeowner $293. This continues a two-decade trend where the supervisors have increased real estate taxes three times faster than homeowner income, which has barely kept up with inflation. The average homeowner real estate tax next year would be $7200. If real estate taxes had increased at the same pace as inflation since 2000, the average tax would be $3800.
The $293 increase would be the largest real estate tax hike in five years. However, you would not know it from reading the county chairman’s newsletter.
It is easy for the supervisors to mislead taxpayers about real estate taxes. In his March 9, 2021, newsletter, county chairman Jeffrey McKay (D-At-Large) stated that the advertised real estate tax rate for next year is $1.15 per $100 of your home’s assessed value, the same as this year’s rate. While he acknowledged “… that many residents’ assessments are on the rise …,” he did not acknowledge that the average increase in residential assessments is 4.25%. While many homeowners will have tax hikes of 4% or more and others less depending on their individual assessments, most will have a tax increase, and the average increase will be 4.25%.
By comparison, the cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits this year is 1.3%. The county’s $293 advertised real estate tax increase is greater than the average 2021 Social Security increase, which is $240.
Also, Chairman McKay neglected to say that the advertised real estate tax rate is just over $1.18, not $1.15. This is because, starting in 2010 the supervisors added to your real estate tax bill a new stormwater tax, which is also based on your assessment. The stormwater rate is an additional 3 ¼ cents.
A Taxpayers Alliance member emailed us that the Mason District supervisor, at her budget town hall, said that real estate taxes are increasing due to higher assessments. Our member got the supervisor to admit that the supervisors could prevent a tax increase by lowering the real estate rate, from $1.15 to $1.10, which would cancel out the assessment increase. The supervisor then told our member to email her suggestions on what to cut.
Here’s a suggestion. Preventing a tax increase by lowering the rate to $1.10 would reduce next year’s Fairfax County revenues by $150 million. Meanwhile, frustrated parents pulled 9,000 students out of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). At an average cost of $16,500 per student, the loss of 9,000 students reduces FCPS spending by $149M. Therefore, the FCPS budget, which is mainly funded by the county, can be cut by $149M.
Note that Fairfax County received $470 million in COVID relief funds, more than three times the revenue from next year’s advertised tax increase, primarily from last year’s CARES Act. The county estimates that it will receive an additional $222 million from the just-passed American Rescue Plan.
Also, both the county and FCPS have not answered repeated requests from the Taxpayers Alliance about how many employees were paid while not working and how much that cost. To our knowledge no county or school employees lost jobs or pay due to the COVID lockdown, while their private-sector counterparts did lose jobs, pay, and businesses. Moreover, schools are asking for a pay raise next year.
During last year’s lockdown, the supervisors imposed a 3% real estate tax hike, and now they’re advertising a 4.25% tax hike during the second year of the lockdown.
If you oppose a real estate tax hike, please contact county chairman Jeffrey McKay well before April 27, when the supervisors finalize the budget. His phone is 703-324-2321, and he can be emailed at email@example.com.
If you oppose giving raises to employees who were paid for not working and oppose paying for 9,000 students who were withdrawn from the school system, please contact school board chairman Ricardy Anderson at 571-423-1083.
Phone calls and emails can have an impact. If you do call or email, please let the FCTA know. Thank you!
Editor’s note: To learn more about the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance (FCTA), visit their website at FCTA.org. You can also email them via Bulletin@FCTA.org. Finally, don’t miss FCTA President Arthur Purves live on Facebook tonight (April 2) at 7 o’clock!