The Arlington County Civic Federation is pressing the county government to slice just a little bit more off the real-estate tax rate.
Delegates voted 22-14 April 5 to support a resolution calling for a cut of 1 cent off the existing rate of 99.6 cents per $100 assessed value. That would be a half-cent more than the cut proposed by County Manager Mark Schwartz.
The penny-cut proposal came from the federation’s revenues-and-expenditures committee, which long has been a bastion of fiscal conservatism within the organization. The vote took place after not a single delegate opted to speak for or against the idea – a rarity at Civic Federation meetings.
Cutting the tax rate to 98.6 cents per $100 can be accomplished “with little if any impact” to the billion-dollar county budget, said Burton Bostwick, who sits on the committee.
(Committee members voted 7-1, with one abstention, to recommend the tax-rate cut to the full federation, and handed out a list of potential budget actions that could add up to a one-cent reduction.)
A one-cent cut in the tax rate would equate to a $50 savings for the owner of a home assessed at a half-million dollar, and would cut about $7 million from the county government’s coffers.
The proposal is “certainly responsible,” said Arlington County Taxpayers Association president Tim Wise, who sits on the revenues-and-expenditures committee and would have supported a greater cut if it had been offered.
Under Schwartz’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget, the typical Arlington homeowner will see a total cost for local taxes and fees of $7,859 this year, up about $219 from a year before. Over the past five years, the average tax burden has grown $1,113.
Restraining the growth would be a benefit to the public, said Suzanne Sundburg, a Civic Federation delegate who supported the proposal. “Taxes do push up the cost of housing – to renters as well as homeowners,” she said.
County Board members earlier this year advertised a maximum tax rate of 99.6 cents per $100 – unchanged from a year before – but indicated they were supportive of Schwartz’s plan to slice a half-cent off the rate. County Board Chairman Libby Garvey has indicated she hopes the board can make a larger cut in the rate.
County Board members will adopt their fiscal 2017 budget, and set tax rates, later in the spring. The real-estate tax is pro-rated into two halves, which are due in June and October.