County Passes Budget with Largest One Time Tax Increase in County History

On April 27th, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors passed their $1.34 billion FY2022 budget, which included a $62.8 million dollar spending increase over last year and an average increase in residential tax bills of $286 per home. The $286 average increase is the largest increase in residential tax bills in the county’s history.

Although the Board did lower the real state rate by a penny, which Supervisor Vega supported during markup, she could not vote for the overall increase at a time when many county families are still struggling to get on their feet.

You can view the average increase, two-year increase, and two-year cumulative increase in tax bills by zip code since the start of COVID below:

 

Sudley – 20109 – $248/413/$578

Manassas – 20110 – $359/$525/$691

Buckhall – 20111 – $300/$447/$594

Hoadly – 20112 – $340/$509/$678

Bristow – 20136 – $355/$557/$759

Broad Run – 20137 – $307/$441/$475

Catharpin – 20143 – $317/$650/$983

Gainesville – 20155 – $340/$589/$838

Haymarket – 20169 – $505/$773/$1,041

Nokesville – 20181 – $402/$739/$1,076

Montclair – 22025 – $294/$473/$652

Dumfries – 22026 – $358/$626/$894

Occoquan – 22125 – $199/$321/$443

Quantico – 22134 – $404/$502/$600

Triangle – 22172 – $305/$430/$555

Woodbridge – 22191 – $256/$421/$586

Lake Ridge – 22192 – $290/$449/$608

Dale City – 22193 – $305/$447/$589

 

The tax rate on data centers increased from $1.35/$100 assessed value to $1.50. This was ten cents less than the County Executive’s proposed rate of $1.60.

The Board majority also voted to create a new forty-cent tax per pack of cigarettes which will generate an estimated $4 million in additional revenue per year. This tax was opposed by those in the convenience store industry.

Of the $62.8 million dollar spending increase, the bulk majority went to the school division ($34.5M) and increased pay and compensation for county employees ($9.9M). Prince William County Schools are projecting a decrease of over 1,000 students from the 2019-2020 school year.

Additionally, a five-year spending plan was passed which includes the assumption of a new 4% Meals Tax.

Other spending of note was an amnesty for $307,000 worth of unpaid library fines and $178,000 for an “Equity and Inclusion’ program. $3.6 Million will be taken from the recordation tax fund to rename Jefferson Davis Highway.

In light of the economic fallout due to COVID, Supervisor Vega pushed for a reduced residential tax rate that would guarantee the average homeowners tax bill, would, at the very least, not have increased over last year. Her proposal to advertise this rate in March was defeated along party lines. Had this rate been adopted, county government would still have received over $18 million more than last year to spend on programs.

Since 2010, county government spending has increased 3.5 times population growth. This 60% increase in spending has resulted in the average homeowners tax bill increasing from $3,296 to $4,970 over this same time period.

The increases in general revenue spending do not include the $82 million the county received through the ‘CARES Act’ or the $92 million from the ‘American Rescue Act’ funneled to county government from taxpayers.

Despite the county falling 235 police officers short of its goals needed to keep the county safe per the county comprehensive plan, only six more officers were hired at a price tag of $1.3 million out of the $62.8 million dollar spending increase. Once it became clear that the $1.115 real estate tax rate would be adopted and the additional tax revenue secured, Supervisor Vega advocated for the hiring of four additional officers on top of the six, in addition to a 0.5% increase in pay for first responders above the proposed 3% increase. These proposals were defeated along party lines.

However, some good things were in the budget, including a request from the Sheriff’s Office for body worn cameras and tasers was approved.

Supervisor Vega also successfully advocated for the restoration of $62,000 which had been removed over the last few years from the Property Code Enforcement budget within Neighborhood Services. The reallocation of the $62,000 will allow for the division to tackle more property code violations including residential overcrowding and neighborhood parking issues, among others.

Left out of last year’s budget, Supervisor Vega strongly advocated for an “Out-of-State License Fee” for those keeping their cars parked in the county without a Virginia license plate. Historically, many individuals have obtained license plates in neighboring Maryland yet fail to update their plates and license after moving to Virginia. In neighboring Loudoun County, nearly $1 million was generated from this program pre-COVID and Supervisor Vega is hopeful for similar results here in Prince William to bring in additional revenue while playing a small role to help offset the tax burden on the county’s law-abiding residents. This Out-of-State License Fee was included in the FY22 budget.

Other things in the budget Supervisor Vega supported included funding for a homeless shelter in western Prince William County and extra funding for Andrew Leitch, Doves Landing, Hellwig, and Howison Parks. However, she could not justify the large real estate tax bill per family to vote for the entire proposed budget.

You can view the entire adopted budget here.

Though the deadline for an administrative appeal of property assessments was June 1st, you may appeal to the Circuit Court of Prince William County within three years of the assessment.

 

– Coles District Staff

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