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March 19, 2018 · OPINION

Proposed tax increase too great for many

By Thomas H. Valk

There are a number of Fauquier County homeowners who remain in a state of shock over the recently completed real estate assessments.

For about 18,000 homeowners, the assessments increased — typically, 17.75 percent, from $321,000 to $378,000. For many, such increases did not seem justified by either comparable homes or improvements. Homeowners should note that the county’s Board of Equalization, sworn in March 15, should become active next month to hear assessment appeals.

Assessments are only one part of the tax equation, however. The board of supervisors will consider the real estate tax rate along with the county’s two-year budget. That rate — in dollars per $100 — of assessed value that will determine what taxpayers will be paying to the county this year.

Given the overall assessment increase, the rate would need to be lowered from its current value of $1.039 to 94 cents so that taxpayers would, on average, pay no more than last year. This is called the “lowered tax rate.” The county administrator has recommended a rate 98.7 cents, which would increase taxes by 11.7 percent or $393 for the average homeowner.

It will be, no doubt, a mighty temptation for the board of supervisors to raise the real estate tax. Government, even the good government we have in Fauquier County, will always want to grow. It is virtually a force of nature. However, such growth should not be put upon the homeowners of the county, who already pay a great deal.

The $393 average tax increase suggested by the administrator would be much better left in the pockets of hardworking residents to spend or save as they may decide. It is their money, after all, not the county’s.

The Fauquier Taxpayers Association strongly recommends that the real estate tax not be increased at all. Rather, the board of supervisors should continue its good work of increasing both commercial and agricultural development. Both types of development generate more revenue than consumed in services, thus filling the county coffers.

Such enlightened development includes the OVH development at Vint Hill and, most recently, the board’s approval of the Remington Technology Park. We need more of this development, not higher taxes.

Homeowners are urged to call or e-mail your supervisors.

The writer is the Fauquier Taxpayers Association chairman.
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LindaW · March 27, 2018 at 10:40 pm
The school system in most county budgets consumes the majority of the dollars, ours is not out of line or unusual, in fact it's lower than many, including Culpeper County. Surrounding counties bumped their school budgets (and assessments, and taxes) enough this year to give teachers a raise, again. Sadly, Fauquier did not. So it will be even harder to keep our good teachers.
Cameron_Jones · March 27, 2018 at 6:27 pm
So Mr. Valk, Let's hear your opinions on business growth in the Service Districts as prescribed by the County Comprehensive Plan. This would improve our tax base dramatically, and lower everyone's property taxes and increase the amount of money available for services such as EMS, Fire, Sheriff, and Schools. Problem is, we have no services in most of the Service Districts, so people by pass us for a more business friendly climate in Culpeper. What little business does land here amounts to nothing, and produces no jobs either.

What is your solution?

You talk about development at Vint Hill, but you have vehemently opposed Vint Hill Village.

Funny you are suddenly advocating development after opposing it for all these years.
TooTrue · March 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Chris Granger has been part of the tax and spend group which has been adding to the cost of living in the County and Towns here. People deserve what they get by putting and keeping these types of people in office.
martinkus · March 26, 2018 at 9:58 am
Well said "roytrees"! The FCPS system will eventually drain the county's budget. FCPS already receives about 47% of the entire budget and that number will continue to grow over time. What's the largest source of revenue for the county's budget? Real estate/personal property taxes! Homeowners will continue to bear the burden! Sad!
roytrees · March 26, 2018 at 9:21 am
The criteria for the elderly and disabled to gain tax relief needs to be adjusted accordingly. The gross income and the financial net worth need to be increased. High real estate assessments and a high tax percentage increase makes it hard for a senior or disabled person to continue living in Fauquier County. As assessments and taxes change, so must the tax relief program. One must change with the other. The tax relief qualifications have not changed for years.
Silii · March 22, 2018 at 4:20 pm
I'll repeat myself. I contacted each supervisor with my comments about the proposed tax increase in light of an extremely faulty, biased assessment process. I receive not acknowledgement from any of the supervisors so I have no idea if they even bothered to read my comments. This is the same group that wants to spend spend spend money that, should an increase happen, comes from retired people on fixed incomes and working people who see no raises but continually see gas prices rise, food prices rise, fees here and there going up. You all know what I'm talking about, you all apparently not including all the supervisors.
Susan Trumbo · March 21, 2018 at 11:57 am
Agree, especially with it being a force of nature for government to grow. Our Supervisors have a difficult job finding where to so NO! Stick to the basics: schools, sheriff, fire and rescue, these are the services Fauquier County must provide. Parks and libraries are not necessities. When and where to give pay raises is difficult when the taxpayers are seeing pay raises.

Keep in mind that increased property values does not mean there have been increases in income. A $300 increase in annual property taxes will be 1% of income for half the County's residents. That is a significant portion of income for a lot of people.
RGLJA · March 20, 2018 at 2:03 pm
There are many ways to raise taxes with rates or assessments or both, but the bottom line is that homeowners are getting much higher tax bills relative to any increases in their household incomes. The Board of Supervisors has been proposing some very questionable new multi-million dollar projects, an unnecessary new library, an outrageously inappropriate new county owned fiber optic network, and all of this on top of our more legitimate needs such as new schools.

The author says we have good government, but truthfully, how is our Board of Supervisors any different than the Democrats who run Fairfax County. We are being taxed at 1.039%, just barely under the Fairfax County rate of 1.13%, while our neighbors in Culpeper pay only 0.67%. I think most of our residents believe the lifestyle we are trying to preserve here in Fauquier County, should be closer to Culpeper and less like Fairfax. I've only heard one of our Supervisors speak seriously about slowing down all this new spending. It is time for the residents of Fauquier County to get active and let your supervisor know what you think about these high tax assessments and high rates.
Silii · March 20, 2018 at 1:57 pm
Mr. Valk is spot on. Many assessments went up far more than the average - keep in mind how an average is calculated - and subsequent taxes will increase far more than the average $393 if the tax rate is lowered.

Here's my problem. Prior to the public hearing on the budget at Fauquier High School last week, I contacted each supervisor in writing with my concerns and facts. I did not receive acknowledgement from any of them, including my supervisor.

The message to me is that they either didn't read my comment or they didn't care. What are we supposed to do? Go to the streets with a revolution and overthrow? Maybe that will be next.
martinkus · March 19, 2018 at 2:10 pm
Nice summary.

The issue we face is that, the FCPS receives about 47% of the county's budget! That's a lot of green for the schools and the school system will continue to request more and more each year. The biggest source of revenue for the county (I believe about 70% or maybe a bit higher) is from real estate/property taxes. The homeowner always gets "hit." For personal property taxes (e.g., vehicles), homeowners can choose not to buy new cars and older cars running longer, thus lowering their personal property taxes. Such is not the case for homes. It is very upsetting that many Fauquier homeowners, who do not "upgrade" their properties, are still slammed with incredibly high assessments every four years. Sad day for us homeowners!
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