I think the Fairfax County government would try to get blood from a stone if it could ["Fairfax Tax Bills Will Go Up Again," Metro, Dec. 18].

I wonder what my boss would say if I asked him for a 14 percent pay raise in order to pay my property taxes for 2004?

Once again county residents will receive in the mail, along with our tax increase, the wonderful words of comfort from the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration, "There are tax relief programs which are designed to help you if you are going to have a problem paying your taxes." I am sure this statement will apply to many people, especially the elderly who are on a fixed income.

Is Fairfax County trying to make us wards of the state?

DOUGLAS GOODGION

Falls Church

*

Fairfax officials say that property tax bills, "which rise and fall with home values," jumped 13 percent last year and 14 percent this year.

Something is amiss here. The best indicator of value is price. In an open and competitive housing market, value is reflected in actual prices paid.

In August the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reported that the average single-family house price -- compared with a year earlier -- rose less than 8 percent. More recently, Realtors are reporting that houses are languishing longer on the market, suggesting a leveling out of home sales prices and demand.

To be honest, assessments of "value" should be tied to market sales prices -- what the experts call "comparable sales." Property taxes should "rise and fall" with the real reflection of value, namely, house prices.

JERRY LEEDOM

Springfield