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Here Comes The Arlington County Board

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board will vote to advertise the calendar year real estate tax rate. The advertised rate will be the maximum real estate rate the Board can set when it adopts the FY 2010 budget in April although it can adopt a lower rate. The advertisement is item 22 on Saturday’s agenda. In the summary of his report to the Board, the Manager wrote:

“Real estate tax revenue represents 53% of the County’s revenues and is one of the few tax sources where the County Board has flexibility in setting the rate. The current tax rate is $.838 per $100 of assessed value. To keep the average residential tax bill the same would require an advertisement of $0.855 (an increase of $1.7 cents).

“To provide a current services budget without major reductions to County services, based on a full sharing of revenue with the Schools, would require an advertised rate of $0.956 (an increase of 11.8 cents).

“The overall assessed value for all properties in the County is up 0.4%, while the average home value is down 2.0%. However, all general fund revenues for the County are projected to decline 3.1%, which will generate $28.9 million less than the adopted Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

“When these revenues from current tax rates are apportioned based on the Revenue Sharing Agreement with the Schools, the Schools tax revenue transfer increases .65% (an increase of $2.3 million) and the County’s portion of shared local taxes decreases by 3.30% (a decrease of $12.5 million), a total difference in tax revenue of $14.9 million. The disparity between the County and the Schools is based on an automatic adjustment in the revenue sharing formula based on the increased number of students enrolled in the current school year.”

Importantly, however, the Manager also writes:

“In developing a recommended budget for FY 2010, I found an increase of 1.7 cents inadequate to meet the County’s needs. In the budget that I will recommend for Fiscal Year 2010, I will ask the County Board to consider a minimum tax rate change of 2.7 cents. This increase will enable the Board to at least consider proposals that will avoid severe reductions in County services, mitigate the impacts from the automatic adjustment in the revenue sharing formula, and meet critical safety net needs. Even at this rate, over $20 million in County programs will be recommended for reduction. An increase of this amount would add $51 to the average tax bill and represent an increase of 1.1% over CY 2008. The County Board would still retain the option to set the rate at an increase of 1.7 cents and will have before it alternatives to further reduce County services. (emphasis added)

The County Board should also consider additional flexibility beyond 2.7 cents . . . .” (emphasis added)

Guess we don’t want the County Board to make too many tough decisions in adopting the FY 2010 budget, do we? Guess it’s only taxpayers who must make tough decisions.

Use the link in the column to the right to tell the Board what you think about the real estate tax rates.

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