The school board advocates a $100-million tax increase to pay for a one-year $96 million increase in the cost of employee benefits. Of that $71 million is for increased pension costs and $15 million is for the unfunded liability for retiree medical benefits. Most private-sector taxpayers do not have pensions or retiree medical benefits. The county likewise has a $35 million one-year increase in employee benefits, of which approximately $20 million is for increased pension costs.
Between 2000 and 2007, the supervisors doubled the typical homeowner's real estate tax from $2,407 to $4,846. Since then, while housing assessments have decreased, the supervisors have kept the typical real estate tax above $4800.
The supervisors advertised a residential real estate tax rate of $1.12. However, hidden in the budget is another real estate tax for stormwater management, which the supervisors are also increasing from 1 cent to 1 1/2 cents. This makes the total real estate tax rate $1.135.
If Fairfax County residential real estate taxes had increased no faster than inflation since 2000, next year's average residential real estate tax would be $3279 instead of the $4908 proposed by the supervisors. The real estate tax rate would be 76 cents instead of $1.135.
The 9 1/2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate increases county revenue by $177 million.
The supervisors will hold budget hearings on April 6, 7, and 8. Depending on the outcome of the hearings, the supervisors may decide to adopt a lower tax rate. The law forbids them. however, from approving a tax rate higher than the $1.135 advertised rate. They vote on the budget and tax increases on April 27. If the supervisors do not increase school funding by $96 million, the school board has said that they will increase class size and cut band and sports to pay for the increased pension and benefit costs.
CALL TO ACTION: Tell the supervisors to stop raising taxes to give county and school employees get better benefits than taxpayers receive. See the "Provide Feedback" box on the upper right corner of the county budget page.
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