Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Don’t forget: New assessments are coming in April

As if getting your 401(k) statement these days weren’t bad enough, just a reminder that Fredericksburg homeowners will receive reassessment notices in April. This is Fredericksburg’s first year back on a two-year assessment schedule. The city switched from a four-year schedule after the 2007 reassessment.

The headlines from 2009 will be very different from those of 2007. Just look at this story Donnie Johnston wrote about Culpeper County’s recent reassessment, and compare it to this one from 2007. Two different worlds.

On Tuesday, Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal Co., the same company the city hired to do the 2007 reassessment, will report on its progress at the 7:30 p.m. City Council meeting.

In its Power Point presentation (in the council packet, find it here), Blue Ridge lists eight city homes, and compares sales prices from summer and spring of 2008 with their assessed values (Reminder: You can look up the assessed value of city property here.)

All of the sales prices are below assessed value, by between 0.97 percent and 25.24 percent. And that’s comparing assessments to sales that happened way back in the summer. In January, I looked at some of the home sales from the December deeds, and a handful of homes in that month sold for between 34 and 61 percent below assessed value.

Amid all this, you have to wonder about commercial property. Look at the three properties the city has bought along the Rappahannock River on Sophia Street. One sold for 8 percent above assessed value, one for 7 percent above assessed value, and the most recent–the Wings on the Water property–sold for nearly 35 percent above assessed value.

Yesterday, Jeff Branscome reported that the University of Mary Washington Foundation paid $1.5 million for the Twi-Lite Motel. That’s 117 percent more than its assessed value.

Have these buyers been bad negotiators? Has the city been short-changed due to low commercial assessments? What’s at work here?

One more thing: Don’t forget that after the reassessment, the council has to advertise an "equalized tax rate," then vote on the tax rate it thinks it needs to balance the budget. You can’t really know how your assessment will affect your tax bill until you look at these rates. Here is an explanation of what the equalized tax rate is.


  • dfettero

    8 homes does not seem to be a reprentative sample unless of course only 8 home sold last year.

  • tpkeller

    There isn’t much point in talking about how the general assessment has gone up or down, since as hinted at in the blog, they will adjust the tax rate based on the total new value of all taxed property to come out with more or less the same amount of revenue.

    The important factor that determines YOUR change in taxes is how YOUR house value changed relative to everyone else! If your house held its value better than the average home, then your taxes will go up. If your house value fell more than the rest, then your tax bill will go down.

    It will average out to be the same or nearly the same across the city, but for those whose properties were at one end or the other of the “average”, you will see a change.