The Washington Post

Alexandria council votes to create transportation tax, allow increase in property tax rate

The Alexandria City Council voted to advertise higher real property tax rates and a new transportation tax for commercial properties at Saturday’s meeting.

The council voted 5 to 2 for a rate of $1 per $100 of a property’s assessed value, a 2.2-cent increase over City Manager James K. Hartmann’s proposed rate. Council members Alicia Hughes (I) and Frank H. Fannon IV (R) opposed the measure.

Hartmann’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget would lead to about a $16 increase in the average homeowner’s tax bill, totaling about $4,395 for a $449,400 property. The council’s tax rate would increase the average homeowner’s bill by about $100.

The council also approved a rate of 12.5 cents per $100 of a commercial property’s assessed value that would be dedicated toward new transportation projects.

By law, a locality may not pass a tax rate higher than what is advertised, but can pass a lower rate.

The $1 tax rate “would be responsible and give us flexibility,” to address School Superintendent Morton Sherman’s request for several new schools in the next 10 years, said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley (D).

Hartmann’s proposed $533.1 million budget, based on the current rate of 97.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, also would require city employees to pay more into their pensions, council member Rob Krupicka (D) said. The added funds could be used to avoid that, he said.

The advertised property tax rate would raise an additional estimated $7.2 million, city budget officials said. The mayor and council said their goal is to maintain the tax rate at its current level.

The 12.5-cent transportation tax would raise more than $12 million, officials said. Business taxes for small commercial properties will be cut to offset the impact in Hartmann’s proposal.

Arlington and Fairfax counties already have the commercial add-on tax at 12.5 cents and 11 cents, respectively.

The council also unanimously approved a special tax rate for the undeveloped and commercial portions of Potomac Yard to help fund improved infrastructure, including a Metro station. That rate is 20 cents per $100 of a real estate property’s assessed value.

Public hearings on the tax rates will be held April 16.

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