Property tax rates could rise in Arlington County.

County Board members voted unanimously last Tuesday to advertise a one-cent increase on the current rate, which would bring the proposed fiscal 2012 rate to 96.8 cents per $100 of a property's assessed value.

"I think we ought to give ourselves some flexibility" to deal with possible state and federal actions that could cut key areas of the county's budget, board member J. Walter Tejada (D) said when he proposed the higher rate.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan's proposed budget is based on the current property tax rate of 95.8 cents per $100 of assessed value. Based on her figures, the average tax bill would be $6,487, up about 1.4 percent over the current rate.

"Staff followed your budget guidance; now the question is: Will the five of you do the same?" Arlington resident Wayne Kubicki asked the board.

Several residents at last week's board meeting spoke in favor of an even higher increase in the tax rate. They said a higher rate would allow the county to meet growing social service needs, such as housing assistance.

By law, the board cannot adopt a rate higher than the advertised rate, but it can adopt a lower one. The board will vote on it in April.