Fairfax County limits next year's property tax hike to 2 cents

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland,Taxes,Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to raise real estate taxes by no more than 2 cents next year.

Board members voted 9-1 in favor of advertising County Executive Ed Long's proposed tax hike, but only after defeating a separate motion that sought to raise taxes even higher. The 2-cent increase will raise the average homeowner's annual bill by $262.

Two board members, Supervisors Gerry Hyland, D-Mount Vernon, and Cathy Hudgins, D-Hunter Mill, voted to go beyond Long's proposed new rate of $1.095 to $1.11, to give the county additional revenue that could help offset some of the agency cuts Long is proposing.

Had their proposal passed, the average homeowner's annual bill would have jumped by as much as $332.

"Our proposed budget doesn't give us much, if any, flexibility," said Hyland, who first recommended the increase. "We're going to have a major struggle."

Hudgins cited the increased uncertainty that $85 billion in federal budget cuts is creating for a region that depends so heavily on federal spending, particularly Pentagon spending.

"It all rolls down hill," Hudgins said of the federal cuts. "Let's leave ourselves some latitude."

Eight other board members shot down the higher tax increase, however, saying the expected furlough of federal workers and the sales tax increase imposed by the Virginia General Assembly to fund road construction will take enough of a toll on the county's low-income families.

"I think we're stretching it at 2 cents," said Supervisor John Foust, D-Dranesville. "Going higher is unacceptable to me."

Only Supervisor Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, voted against any increase in tax rates, saying that a 2-cent hike is too much to ask of residents who "can't just raise additional revenues for themselves."

The board will hold a series of public hearings as it works over the 2014 budget proposal from Long. Supervisors can not raise taxes beyond the 2 cents they agreed on, but they can reduce them.

The board must adopt a budget by April 30.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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