Arlington tax rate expected to rise

Arlington County taxpayers may see a property tax rate increase of a half-cent, costing the average taxpayer $118 more next year if the County Board accepts its manager’s advice.

The tax increase, which county staffers termed “modest,” was unveiled in a late-afternoon work session with County Board members Wednesday.

The county’s $1.03 billion budget would restore library hours that were cut in the past two years, ensure that some affordable-housing priorities are met and provide raises for county employees.

The budget also calls for $397 million to go to Arlington schools, an increase of $18.3 million that would cover the cost of an expected 800 new students. Schools also would get a one-time check for $3.8 million because of rising property values.

The average Arlington homeowner pays $6,527 in county taxes and fees. Even without a tax rate increase, that bill would rise to $6,619 because of higher assessments. A half-cent tax rate boost would bring the average homeowner’s bill to $6,645, county officials said.

The recommended tax increase was kept small, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said, because the assessed value of real estate in Arlington grew 6.6 percent, most of it coming from commercial development.

The assessment rise alone gave the county an extra $19 million, without a tax increase. But Donnellan warned that state and federal funds are continuing to decline, even as “demand for services for the most vulnerable in our community continues to grow.” Although she recommended a half-cent tax rate increase, she suggested that the County Board advertise a 1.5 cent increase if board members want to fund all their priorities.

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
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