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The State of NoVa
Posted at 06:28 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Prince William supervisors advertise increased tax rate

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted Tuesday to advertise a real-estate tax rate that would mean homeowners’ bills would go up more than $100 on average if it is adopted.

On a 6 to 2 vote, board members agreed to advertise a rate of $1.215 per $100 assessed value, which would mean an average increase of $110 per household. But the average tax bill of $3,311 would still be the lowest in Northern Virginia, county officials said.
Supervisor Peter K. Candland said that county homeowners are struggling and that officials shouldn’t consider raising taxes. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) and Supervisor Peter K. Candland (R-Gainesville) voted against that rate, arguing for keeping tax bills as low as possible.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for March 29, and the board is scheduled to set a final tax rate and adopt the budget April 24. By state law, the board can only lower, not raise, the advertised rate.

Residents should expect their property assessments, which increased an average of 2.5 percent, in the mail in the next week, officials said.

Stewart said after the vote that he would work to cut the proposed county budget.

More than a dozen county teachers showed up to implore supervisors to set a higher tax rate and send more money to cash-strapped schools. Teachers have protested pay freezes and a school budget plan that calls for future freezes over the next three years.

Charlene Baron, a Spanish teacher at Marsteller Middle School in Bristow, said supervisors are failing to see the big picture.

“It’s the demise of our county,” Baron said after the vote. If schools begin to decline, she said, the county won’t enjoy the economic prosperity it has in the past if home values go down.

Supervisors lamented state and federal budget cuts that have hurt both county government and the school system. The school system assumed that $10.8 million in “cost to compete” state funding would be restored by the General Assembly, but would have to find those dollars elsewhere if state legislators don’t reinstate it in the budget.

David Kinsella, the vice president of the Prince William Education Association and an Osbourn Park High School teacher, said given proposals for a lower real-estate tax rate, Tuesday’s vote wasn’t all bad for the school system.

“It could have been worse,” he said.

The vote tally in the second paragraph has been corrected.

By  |  06:28 PM ET, 02/21/2012

 
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