Echoing residents of many American communities, Northern Virginia residents don’t like the idea of paying increasing local taxes and not getting higher levels of local services:
At packed public meetings and in angry phone calls, local officials say, the same message is echoing from all sides: We’re fed up.
“It’s very frustrating, right now, to try to manage expectations,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Fairfax County, which, like neighboring Loudoun County, is locked in a battle over school funding that could lead to a higher tax rate — and even larger monthly payments…
Cuts to libraries, parks, schools and bus routes since the 2008 recession have negatively affected the quality of life of some residents in this part of Virginia, where top schools and amenities have long been a magnet for families. When much-needed infrastructure projects were launched, officials often paid for them by creating special tax districts and other charges that they passed on to increasingly resentful residents and businesses.
In Fairfax, sewer rates have nearly doubled since 2008, to $6.62 per 1,000 gallons of water, while real estate property taxes have climbed nearly 20 cents during the same period to a current level of $1.085 per $100 of assessed value. That means a house worth $500,000 in 2008 would have had a property tax bill of $4,450, and a house of the same value today would have a bill of $5,425.
Fairfax officials recently advertised a new residential property tax rate cap of $1.105 per $100 of assessed value, which will allow the county to raise the rate by up to two cents to fill a $64?million funding gap projected by school district officials. There is also a push to raise the tax rate in Loudoun, to bridge a $40?million school funding shortfall.
When there is plenty of suburban growth, new money is rolling in from developer fees and new taxpayers. But, in prolonged economic downturns, it is difficult to generate the same levels of money.
I wonder if either of these arguments would work with suburban taxpayers:
1. The reduction in service levels is probably quite limited.
It is not as if these relatively wealthy counties will suddenly become like Third World countries. However, neither of these might matter as residents moved there in part to benefit from these local services.
Note: this is not just a problem in northern Virginia. For example, New Jersey leads the country in property taxes and the bill keeps growing in a number of New Jersey communities.