As the economy plummeted in recent years, local politicians responded by raising our real estate property tax rates year after year. Now that the economy is recovering, and assessments are rising, Northern Virginia’s local governments are pondering the question of whether it’s time to ease off the gas on tax increases. Post reporters Antonio Olivo and Patricia Sullivan took a hard look at that issue in Thursday’s Metro section.
But how much, exactly, have property tax rates gone up since the bubble-busting year of 2007? I compiled this handy, clip-and-save chart, to see what each jurisdiction has charged per $100 of assessed value, and how much it has gone up since those lazy hazy days of 2007. Where available, I’ve also included the proposed rates for this year, or the next fiscal year, marked in parentheses as “pr”. Some places use fiscal years that start in mid-year, so the dates below are approximate.
|NoVa property tax rates||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013||2014||Increase ’07-’13|
|Fairfax County||0.89||0.92||1.04||1.09||1.07||1.075||1.085||(1.105 pr)||22%|
|Falls Church City||1.01||1.03||1.07||1.24||1.27||1.27||1.305||(1.355 pr)||29%|
|Loudoun County||0.986||1.40||1.245||1.30||1.285||1.235||1.205||(1.155 pr)||22%|
|Manassas Park City||1.14||1.24||1.24||1.65||1.65||1.65||1.65||45%|
|Prince William County||0.787||0.97||1.212||1.236||1.204||1.209||1.181||(1.158 pr)||50%|
A few quick observations: The smaller jurisdictions, such as Manassas City, Manassas Park City and Fairfax City have had some of the biggest rate increases because they have to fund their own police, fire and roads departments. But Prince William County is right in there with the little guys, raising its tax rates 50 percent since 2007. Loudoun County, with its all-Republican Board of Supervisors, has actually lowered its tax rate three straight years since 2011 and is proposing to do so again this year. Prince William has dropped its rate in two of the last three years, and is proposing to do so again in the coming year. Manassas, Manassas Park and Fairfax City have not announced their proposed rates for the next year. Fairfax City used to boast of having the lowest tax rate in NoVa, lost that title in 2009, regained it, then lost it again to Alexandria and Arlington.
Also, this chart does not include the rise or fall, by percentage, of real estate assessments or of average taxes paid per household. It’s safe to assume that for at least the first four or five years of this chart, the assessments were dropping. To make up for the lack of revenue, governments raised their rates. But now the assessments are rising. Will local politicians balance things out by lowering the tax rates, which Loudoun is attempting to do in the coming year? Make your predictions in the comments below.
Note: This post originally did not make clear that we are only comparing tax rates, not tax dollars paid per average household. I have added the word “rates” in several places to clarify that that’s what we’re discussing here.