Higher property assessments could bring about $30 million more to Arlington County's coffers this coming fiscal year, but it may not be enough to reverse service cuts made in previous tight budget years.
Arlington's 2011 property value assessments are up 6.3 percent, almost eliminating last year's decline of 7.2 percent, said county finance gurus.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the County Board in October that the combined budget gap for the county and schools was estimated at $25 million to $30 million. At that point, the county's finance team also thought real property assessments were going to increase a mere 1 percent.
"It may appear that, 'Wow! Your problem just went away,' " said Richard Stephenson, the county's budget director. The revenue projections from assessments, however, must be taken into account with other streams of revenue, such as sales taxes, he said.
"It definitely assisted in making decisions in preparing for the budget," Stephenson said, but that doesn't mean hours will be restored to libraries or recreation centers, two big complaints in past budget cycles.
County residents will have to wait until next month to find out what Donnellan will include in her budget.
About half of the county's single-family home owners would receive more expensive property tax bills if the County Board maintains the tax rate of 95.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, said Michelle Cowan, the county's director of management and finance. The bills of about 28 percent would not change, and the rest would decline, she said.
Residential property values are up 1.4 percent and commercial values 12 percent, she said.
"We're very fortunate," said Cowan, who said commercial values increased across all areas, especially the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City corridors.
The taxes on a county home valued at $510,200, would increase by 1.4 percent, or $67 to $4,888, without service fees included, Stephenson said.
Board members told Donnellan to present a budget with a 1.14 percent spending increase from the current budget. Public hearings on the proposed budget will be held in March, followed by the board's adoption of the tax rate and fiscal 2012 budget.
Assessments can be reviewed after 5 p.m. Thursday at www.arlingtonva.us .