It had all the makings of a “three strikes and you’re out” scenario for Fairfax County homeowners:
* The Fairfax County government’s assessments for 2013 were published, following recent trends that suggest home values are on the rise across the local area.
Undoubtedly, good news, except when coupled with two other pieces of information that arrived:
* County Executive Edward Long Jr. proposed a fiscal 2014 budget that includes an increase in the real estate tax rate. In addition to the rising assessments property owners will also be hit with a higher tax rate. Owners will have to dig deep into their wallets to find cash to feed the government machine.
* The federal government’s “sequestration” is in full force and effect. While much of the posturing by both Democrats and Republicans are phony, the impact on government workers and contractors in the region could be significant, and may well ripple through the entire economy.
So, . . . homeowners are faced with the prospect of higher tax bills at a time when many of them, in both the public and private sectors, have justifiable fears that the disgraceful congressional partisanship puts their own livelihoods at risk.
To give Fairfax County officials their due, they are not the most egregious and avaricious among local jurisdictions when it comes to socking it to their residents by way of higher taxes in good times and bad. The average assessed value of Fairfax County homes has increased 3.5 percent to $465,713 over the past year, according to figures released February 26 by the county. Assessments are up in all corners of the county and in all three segments of the residential real estate market. This is from the Fairfax County web site:
The assessed value of properties may change for a variety of reasons. Among these are appreciation and value declines (i.e., equalization changes); and, structural changes (additions, remodeling), rezonings, and land divisions (i.e., growth). A combination of these factors can apply to the same property.
Single-family homes constitute 73 percent of all residential property value in the county. The assessed value of single-family properties – $550,609 – was up 3.1 percent from a year before, slightly lagging other segments of the market. Townhouses saw an average assessment of $337,817, up 4.5 percent, while the average assessment of condominiums was up 5.4 percent to $222,722.
In different areas of the county, average assessments rose between 1.6 and 5.2 percent. Average assessments were $380,715 in Alexandria;
$380,881 in Annandale;
$395,274 in Burke;
$340,642 in Centreville;
$405,494 in Chantilly;
$619,250 in Clifton;
$432,009 in Fairfax;
$601,818 in Fairfax Station;
$383,559 in Falls Church;
$971,014 in Great Falls;
$428,013 in Herndon;
$349,150 in Lorton;
$786,105 in McLean;
$639,551 in Oakton
$379,812 in Reston;
$373,874 in Springfield;
and $610,521 in Vienna.
Property owners who wish to contest their assessments can do so administratively through the county government, or through the Board of Equalization. Rulings can be appealed to the Circuit Court. Information on the assessment process is available by calling (703) 222-8234 or through the county government’s Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta.