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Stafford supervisors recommend lower real estate tax rate

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The real estate tax rate could go down in Stafford County this year.

While it’s still early in the budgeting process, the Board of Supervisors recommended a tax rate of about $1.01 per $100 of assessed value.

That would be for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1.

Of course, home values are, on average, increasing, so homeowners may not see a difference in their tax bills.

Commissioner of Revenue Scott Mayausky presented information about the 2014 reassessments to the board Tuesday. Effective Jan. 1, assessments redistribute the tax burden every two years.

Houses and apartments saw the largest jump, up 8 percent from the 2012 reassessment. Commercial property values are up 2 percent, after declining two years earlier.

The value of all taxable property in Stafford increased by about 6 percent, to $14.7 billion.

That doesn’t mean that every house will have a higher value. Lower value homes saw a higher percentage increase, Mayausky explained, while higher-end homes went up a smaller amount. Waterfront properties stayed relatively flat.

“Much like the economy affects each person differently, so does the real estate market,” Mayausky said.

The median value of a single-family home is now $268,000, up from $248,000 in 2012.

Notices will be mailed Feb. 20, and Stafford property owners will have 30 days to appeal.

Stafford’s current tax rate is $1.07 per $100 of assessed value.

An equalized rate would bring in the same revenue plus no more than 1 percent. That rate would be $1.01.

“Even if we stay at the equalized rate, it doesn’t mean there’s no new revenue,” George Washington Supervisor Bob Thomas said.

Garrisonville Supervisor Laura Sellers asked to see the difference between the equalized and effective rates —a difference of 1 cent on the tax rate. That would be a $1.4 million impact to the budget.

She hesitated on favoring a rate before hearing what the school system needed.

But other supervisors said the board needs to give a recommendation so that County Administrator Anthony Romanello has a target for his proposed budget. He’s scheduled to present that March 4.

“We’re not tying anyone’s hands at this point,” Chairman Jack Cavalier said.

Of course, once the tax rate is advertised, it can’t be raised unless it’s re-advertised and another public hearing is held.

Also Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors approved a community drainfield for a 49-lot cluster subdivision, the proposed Albion development. Virginia Properties Inc. is proposing to build right off the southern side of State Route 3, across from the Renaissance Business Park.

Two other community septic systems exist in Stafford—one serves Canterbury Estates in Aquia, along the Potomac River.

Supervisor Cord Sterling wanted an opinion from the attorney general, but that ended in a failed vote.

The drainfield was approved on a 4–2 vote, with Sterling and Cavalier against. Supervisor Gary Snellings was absent for health reasons.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975

kthisdell@freelancestar.com

 

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