Homeowners in Fairfax County may have to pay up to 10 percent more in taxes because of continuing increases in property assessments, although the proposed budget recommends a 1-cent drop in the property tax rate.

The budget proposal, recently sent to the City Council by City Manager George E. Hubler Jr., calls for expenditures of $22,321,261 -- a 10.7 percent, or $2,151,880, increase over this year's budget. Hubler recommended only one new position -- a mechanic -- but because three positions were dropped, the overall payroll will be decreased by two positions, to 229.

The 1-cent tax rate cut, to $1.29 for each $100 of assessed valuation, was required under state law because of revenues the city received from the regional gasoline tax, Hubler said. However, Hubler does not expect any further cuts: "A further reduction would endanger our ability to maintain a sound financial position and could require a real property tax rate increase" in the following fiscal year.

Under the proposed budget, the owner of the average-priced single-family house in the city would pay about $1,071 in real estate taxes, compared with $960 last year. The higher taxes are the result of assessment increases that average 12 percent for single-family homes.

Revenues for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, are expected to be $21,061,261. The $1,260,000 difference between expenditures and revenues would be made up by surplus funds from the fiscal year ending June 30.

The biggest item in the proposed budget is, as usual, schools. The tuition contract with Fairfax County, which operates all city schools, is estimated at $9.5 million, nearly a 10 percent increase over last year.

Capital improvements total $500,000, and they would be funded with general revenue sharing money.

Public hearings on the budget have been set for March 17, April 7 and April 14 during City Council meetings at City Hall. The council is scheduled to adopt a new budget at the last session.