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Tax Rate To Be Set Tuesday

By Greg L | 2 March 2009 | Prince William County | 36 Comments

While Chairman Corey Stewart is trying to keep your taxes low in the midst of a national taxpayer pocketbook feeding frenzy, there apparently are some out there who want to ensure that local government will demand more of your wealth at the same time we’re in the midst of an economic downturn.  Some supervisors apparently think it might not be a bad idea to forgo a tax cut so government can spend more of your dwindling income.  Let’s make sure these few usual suspects understand they’re not actually entitled to what’s in your pocket.

From an email from Corey Stewart:

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote this Tuesday March 3 on advertising a property tax rate. I am proposing a rate that will reduce tax bills for homeowners by an average of $548.00 (a 16 % reduction). I want to thank Supervisors Maureen Caddigan (Dumfries), Wally Covington (Brentsville) and John Stirrup (Gainesville) for joining me in supporting this tax relief.

This tax rate of $1.198 will support the County Executive’s proposed budget, which reduces government spending by $56 million compared to last fiscal year without cutting any of our uniformed police or fire and rescue personnel. The County Executive’s budget is responsible and sustainable. By focusing our resources, it allows us to protect vital county services while providing tax relief to you during these uncertain times.

To pass this tax reduction, we need at least five supervisors to vote this Tuesday in support of the $1.198 tax rate. Please email the Board at BOCS@pwcgov.org urging the whole Board to join Supervisors Stirrup, Covington, Caddigan and myself in supporting this rate and ensuring tax relief for you.

Please be sure to tune into Comcast Channel 23 or Verizon FIOS Channel 37 to see how your supervisor votes.

PWCRC Chairman Lyle Beefelt had this to say as well:

My Fellow PWC Republicans,You are, of course, aware that the current economic crisis has had a significant impact on Prince William County. Unemployment, while not as bad as some parts of the country, is up. Furthermore, Prince William has been among the hardest hit counties with respect to home foreclosures, and residential real estate values have fallen dramatically.

With this sobering economic backdrop, the Board of County Supervisors is working to put together next year’s budget. The #1 determining factor in the County budget is the real estate tax rate, which is set to be advertised next week. Both residents and businesses pay the same rate and, once advertised, the final rate cannot go higher.

There are two competing proposals currently being suggested. A rate of $1.198 is suggested by Chairman Stewart and is, so far, endorsed by three other Republicans on the Board (Caddigan, Covington, and Stirrup). Supervisor Jenkins (D-Neabsco) has suggested $1.295.

There are a number of reasons why it is better to go with the lower rate and to decide this question now.

First, the lower rate will cut the average residential tax bill be nearly $550. This means that millions of dollars that would otherwise go to taxes can be spent on family or business expenses, new investments or to pay down debt. All three are important to the long-term health of the local economy.

Second, while both rates mean higher taxes on businesses, the higher rate could mean tax increases of from 10% to 30% on area businesses at a time when businesses are already suffering.

Thirdly, making that decision now ends the uncertainty and sends a clear message about the Boards objective: protect the taxpayer, support local businesses, and improve the long-term fiscal health of the County. Advertising a higher rate will only encourage putting off budget cuts that, in the end, must be made.

Nobody is saying that the budget cuts will not be painful. School class sizes will be essentially at the state limit. Nearly everyone will see some service they are used to cut. It is a true belt tightening. However, not tightening our belts during these times would be truly irresponsible. It would be hampering our long-term prosperity to enjoy more government services now. Nor is it helpful to dangle a potentially higher tax rate before interest groups and agencies that are having trouble adjusting their expectations. It is far better to settle that question now – this Tuesday.

I encourage all Republicans to let their feeling be known on this issue in a civil and responsible manner that doesn’t resort to personal attacks. The email address for the Board of County Supervisors is BOCS@pwcgov.org.


Lyle Beefelt

Chairman, PWC Republican Committee

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  1. NoVA Scout said on 2 Mar 2009 at 6:44 am:
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    The difference in the contending rates is very small. The issue is which rate will yield an adequate revenue to support essential services. If any of you have studied up enough to know the answer to that question, by all means raise your voice in favor of the appropriate rate. Be sure you crank in the impact of declining property values when you do your sums.

    Of course, the property tax in Virginia is a relic from times long past and ought to be abandoned in favor of income taxation. But that’s not going to happen in the next few days, weeks, months, or years. No politician now on the stage cares enough about the citizens and fiscal responsibility to advocate that.

  2. Old Soldier said on 2 Mar 2009 at 7:41 am:
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    I agree with NoVA Scout. First, you decide what services to deliver to the community, then you raise revenue to pay for them. Because of the mechanics of Virginia tax policy, this translates into publishing a tax rate high enough to support anticipated services. The BOCS can actually adopt rate lower than the published rate after assessing the “bill”; however, you can’t go higher).

    Setting a tax rate before you understand the “question” (the cost of services) is backwards (and NOT good Governance). Personally, I support Supervisor Jenkins for a couple of reasons:

    1. He is the MOST EXPERIENCED supervisor on the BOCS (the
    “been there, done that” argument), and
    2. He has no other ambitions than to serve the community (to Jenkins, this isn’t about political theater).

  3. Big Dog said on 2 Mar 2009 at 8:58 am:
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    While the proposed PWC and Manassas rates have
    been in the paper and on the net, I’ve haven’t found
    any mention of Manassas Park’s rate for the next FY.
    Anyone know?

  4. freedom said on 2 Mar 2009 at 9:39 am:
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    Nova and Old Soldier, don’t forget, the County Staff established a budget based upon guidance previously given to them by the BOCS. There was a great deal of outstanding work that went into the creation of that budget, and while it represents a 6% reduction in expenditures, it’s as the County Exec said, “…there’s still 94% left.” In these economic times, that ain’t half bad. (I sure wish I had 94% of my personal investments left.)

    If you take a look at the proposed budget, designed to fit within a residential tax rate of $1.198, the reductions are very modest. Of course, the proposed budget does call for no salary increases and no merit pay for county employees. However, as we all know, these ARE tough times and we’re all tightening our belts; there is no reason for county government not to do the same.

    This year, many PWC residents, particularly those trying to keep up with their home mortgage, would be happy with a job, much less a salary increase.

  5. anonymous said on 2 Mar 2009 at 10:23 am:
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    “While the proposed PWC and Manassas rates have
    been in the paper and on the net, I’ve haven’t found
    any mention of Manassas Park’s rate for the next FY.
    Anyone know?”

    Any documentation of that is sitting in the same file cabinet next to the photos.

  6. Old Soldier said on 2 Mar 2009 at 10:53 am:
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    freedom, I agree with everything you said; however, I still believe that there is no reason to establish a rate before the BOCS actually defines the problem. While we pay staff to make recommendations, we elect Supervisors to actually make the decisions. We really don’t know to what degree the Supervisors agree with staff recommendations (yet).

    If we don’t allow our Supervisors to… well… actually Supervise, we might as well save some real money, disband the Supervisor system, and let Gerhart and his staff run the county (there might be an argument for doing just that).

  7. rebelreggie said on 2 Mar 2009 at 11:37 am:
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  8. sahdman said on 2 Mar 2009 at 11:44 am:
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    In April Manassas Parks Governing Body will hold a public hearing and set the real estate tax rates.

  9. Big Dog said on 2 Mar 2009 at 12:40 pm:
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    Sahdman, both you and the person who wrote
    the title to this posting “Tax Rate To Be Set Tuesday”
    are confused - what must be set in the next few days
    by state law is the maximum property tax rate - the
    rate finalized in late April can be the same or lower,
    but not higher. Manassas Park, as a Virginia jurisdiction,
    must announce its maximun proposed rate - in
    early March.

  10. sahdman said on 2 Mar 2009 at 2:37 pm:
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    Big Dog
    So what you are telling me is that this letter I got with my water bill last month is basically useless. And the fourth paragraph is misleading. So the meeting in April is nothing more than a charade. Have the people living in this city never lived anywhere else that was run smoothly and without the stench of corruption and incompetence. If they had they should know better. I regret having moved to this city. 22 million dollar swimming pool, 33 million dollar elementary school town center that belongs in Arlington and all this for a town of 10-12 thousand people many of which are probably illegal. I need this tax increase that they are keeping quiet like I need another hole in the head. We know its an increase if it was a decrease they would be shouting in from the highest peak of the new town center.

  11. FOIA said on 2 Mar 2009 at 3:14 pm:
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    Without knowing your assessment the rate is meaningless.

  12. Big Dog said on 2 Mar 2009 at 3:59 pm:
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    Just curious (I’m not a resident of MP) about what the
    proposed advertised property tax rate will be for all three
    local jurisdictions. The proposed PWC and Manassas
    City rates are in newspapers and on the net, but
    nothing, I can find, about MP. Thought someone on this
    blog might know.

  13. sahdman said on 2 Mar 2009 at 4:31 pm:
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    Manassas Park won’t know the assessments until June (I am guessing) the new assessments go into effect in July. I haven’t seen anything on the city’s website mentioning anything about the new rates the only mention I have gotten is this letter with my last water bill. Either the rate would have to double since my property is worth half of what it was a year ago or they will have to inflate property values again. Both of which are immoral. The ridiculous amount between what I should be paying and what I am forced to pay in taxes each month last year(and until at least until June this year) would have bought me some better groceries, started a nice little college fund for my kid or padded my retirement account or paid off some bills. 22 million dollar swimming pools and new town centers aren’t putting food on my table or going to help send my kid to college.

  14. Brian Leeper said on 2 Mar 2009 at 4:36 pm:
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    I can tell you that, absent any budget cuts and given the projected 40% decline in property values, it will take a $2 per hundred tax rate to maintain current city spending, per a statement by Gary Fields, finance director. Frank Jones was quick to add “not that that’s what we’re contemplating”.

  15. Casanova Frankenstein said on 2 Mar 2009 at 4:53 pm:
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    The PWEA is at it again…

    Dear PWEA member:

    Chairman Corey Stewart, of the Board of County Supervisors has sent out a request for citizens to contact their board representative in favor of the 1.198 tax rate. We must contact them to let them know we need a tax rate that will support education. One more penny would add $2.2 million dollars to our education budget! Please contact your representative before next Tuesday to ask for a higher advertised rate. If at all possible, join me on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, at 2:00 p.m., at the McCoart Government Building to stand with me as I stand up for you. It would also be good if you could come to the 7:30 meeting. Depending on when they vote, we need to keep reminding them to support our students, our education employees, and quality education. Thank you, thank you! BOCS@pwcgov.org

    Bonnie Klakowicz

    PWEA President

    8510 Bucyrus Court

    Manassas, VA 20110

    phone: 703-361-2444 fax:703-361-2178

    e-mail: pweaoffice@pweaveanea.org

    website: www.pweaveanea.org

    “You, me, and millions of others who work in education are blessed and commissioned with the honor of making a difference in our country

    by teaching a child.”

    Laura Vernon, NEA 2008 ESP of the Year

  16. Loudoun Insider said on 2 Mar 2009 at 5:13 pm:
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    Expect your education lobby to start lobbying hard right away. This was very successful in Loudoun during this past week’s budget hearings. people urging further cuts were massively outnumbered by people urging to “fully fund” the schools. All of these large school systems have waste and inefficiencies that have yet to be weeded out. Either make your voices heard and demand substantive reform, or be prepared to see nothing ever change and your tax bills continue to rise. We are at that time for a real tax revolt in my opinion.

  17. Bob Wills said on 2 Mar 2009 at 5:21 pm:
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    What a bunch of crock about how concerned Stewart and the Board is about saving the citizens of PWC money!!!!

    Thousands of dollars are taken from the citzens of PWC every day just in dry cleaning charges because the BOCS voted a few years ago to limit the size of dry cleaners to 3,000 sq ft so that the Fixed Price Cleaners who need a large space will not come to PWC. Everything you pay over 1.99 today is a specialy tax that goes to the Korean Dry Cleaners who have taken over that business and gouge us. If your vehicle has over 100,000 miles and the county has it on their computer they do not give you the reduction in value for high milage unless you physicaly go to the county building to protest. They vaule residential lots based on a sq footage rate which is completely wrong. Residential property are sold based on unit yield not the actualy sq footage.

    Just a couple of years ago Stewart and the Board wanted to be able to charge commercial property a higher RE Tax rate because it had not gone up as much as residential values. Every year it is a different approach to what the public is told is wrong and who gets blamed that year.

    How can you set a tax rate and not know or be able to tell the public 1. What is the assesment value of the properties in PWC 2. how much is going to be spent in actual dollars. The RE Tax rate is determined by items 1 & 2 but we do not know what 1 7 2 are yet. This is bass ackwards… What would one expect from the clowns that are elected to serve themselves and not the public.

    Stewart and the BOCS said if you pass the 800 million dollar bond issue it will not raise taxes at all. Well that was a lie before the voting and still is. Who wants to keep believing Stewart and his cronies after that lie just to pick one.

  18. freedom said on 2 Mar 2009 at 5:36 pm:
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    My dear Ms Laura Vernon, NEA 2008 ESP of the Year, based upon history, it takes more than additional money to “teach a child.” It IS true, though, and I must admit, additional money WOULD give PWC schools a chance to get out of that hovel they call an Administration Building and get into something a bit more fitting.

    These are NOT “good economic times,” haven’t you heard? There are people really, really hurting out there….and that “extra penny” per $100 of assessed property value means a great deal to someone who just lost their job, don’t ya think? …and it means a great deal to a business person, who is just trying to keep the doors open and maintain jobs for people until some kind of an upturn comes along.

    Ms Vernon, NEA 2008 ESP of the Year, don’t you think that maybe YOU could live without a pay raise for one year, or are you above that? I think not.

  19. anon said on 2 Mar 2009 at 5:42 pm:
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    All teachers ARE living without a pay raise for one year.

    And a lot of them in PWC are losing their jobs, too.

  20. cdubbs said on 2 Mar 2009 at 9:07 pm:
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    Tax cuts and spending reductions in the face of a recession? What a ridiculous idea. What self-respecting citizen would ever expect that from government these days. Now Houston has the right idea, offering to pay off your credit cards so you can qualify for mortgage assistance. Now that’s what I call the ticket. How about that Supervisor Jenkins?

  21. pete said on 2 Mar 2009 at 9:14 pm:
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    typical grandstanding by Stewart. He Is praying that the other dips prevail with a higher rate. It is the ONLY prudent thing to do. If they vote for the 1.19 rate, and the assesments come in lower than they expect - then what??

    I thought PWC was moving into the real world. I do not want them to cut my taxes, I want them to deliver services that I have gotten use to - do you rememeber when they saved money at dMv?

    I wish stewArt would just be his old self, not this media grabber that he has become.

  22. sahdman said on 2 Mar 2009 at 9:24 pm:
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    Big Dog
    consider yourself lucky not to be living in Manassas Park $1.1198 looks pretty good from where I’m sitting.

  23. sahdman said on 2 Mar 2009 at 9:25 pm:
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    sorry $1.198

  24. NoVA Scout said on 2 Mar 2009 at 11:14 pm:
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    Methinks Pete (2114) is on to something.

  25. wineplz said on 3 Mar 2009 at 3:54 pm:
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    I tried looking up my property assessment, but they have yet to put in the data for January ‘09. The last data point is January ‘08. However, Zillow.com (which has been pretty close to my yearly county assessments), is showing my house assessment at $100k less than last year’s county assessment…that doesn’t bode well regardless of which tax rate they use (and the difference for me would be about $350 between the two rates).

    The odd thing is that we just got notice from our mortgage lender that our taxes went up, so we had to not only pay a $1000 flat amount to “catch-up”, but also will be paying $50 more per month to keep up with the new rate…so when would this 1.295 or 1.198 rate go into effect?

    Unfortunately I missed the BOCS meeting as I was at work…anyone know how it went?

  26. park'd said on 3 Mar 2009 at 6:02 pm:
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    wineplz: eh? If the rate hasn’t been set yet and values are down 40% then how did your mortgage company come to the conclusion that your taxes went up, and why did you pay them $1000?? Care to elaborate on that?

    I too am keeping my eye peeled for MP’s next stick save. Houses in my development are going for half what my current assessment is and none have sold for less than 80k less than what the current assessment is throughout 2008. I am about to warm up the comp printouts in case they try and flim flam which I don’t think they will. Last years assessment WAS fairly accurate considering it was based solely on sales from 2007. Immoral and unfair yes, but inaccurate, no. I don’t see how they can NOT raise the rate to 2% without massive cuts to services or major layoffs which none of us wants but then again I am not privy to their methods or what’s going on behind the scenes. It aint gonna be pretty and that rate will pretty much put a lid on any future businesses or home buyers wanting to live in this town since it will be SOOO far beyond the tax rate of any other local municipality as to border the absurd. I know they said they have no plans to implement that rate but imo you can’t fool the math. I tried to tell them early last year that this was coming and spelled it out in a nice letter to the treasurer that went unread most likely.

    Don’t feel alone, I too regret every single day the decision to buy a home here. I learned a valuable lesson out of this fiasco though which is location location location. If homes are cheap and affordable then there is a good chance that the rift raft will soon follow and that’s what happened here with the illegals. Now look where we are: The foreclosure capital of Va. pretty much, values down 60%, One of the highest if not THE highest tax rates in the state now and definitely the highest by a good half dollar by June, terrible commute, trash all over. What an expensive lesson learned. Oye ve…

  27. What I know said on 3 Mar 2009 at 8:48 pm:
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    Jenkins had all his followers out there today to back him on the higher rate. Most of them I am sure do not know anything about a budget and most of them never get involved with the community. That is except for the Social Services and wanting free things for all the have nots.

    Some of them were even those that went and demonstrated down at Rt. One for the Laborers hanging around.
    Course some were teachers but if like the one who protested with the Illegals, they are like these then they are bloody Liberals.

  28. Old Soldier said on 4 Mar 2009 at 9:29 am:
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    A question for What I know (and others), considering how important the tax discussion is to the County, where were you (and others who support views similar to yours) yesterday?

    Democracy is driven by those who show up. This web site should particularly appreciate this principle.

  29. FOIA said on 4 Mar 2009 at 11:43 am:
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    Think about this: to set the rate the BoCS must know the budget as well as the assessments, the rate without knowing the assessments is a meaningless number. However, the county REFUSES to release your assessment until after the rate is set. The county DOES NOT want you to know how the rate will affect your actual taxes.

  30. Brian Leeper said on 4 Mar 2009 at 1:56 pm:
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    This just posted on the MJM site:

    “Big drop
    Manassas Park homeowners will see an average decline of 41 percent when tax assessments go out May 22. The city’s tax base is down 31 percent, or a half a billion dollars.”

  31. park'd said on 4 Mar 2009 at 2:09 pm:
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    That’s about exactly what I’m seeing in my neighborhood. 40% in the past year, preceded by 20% the previous year. That means 1.78% to maintain flat revenue. Do you think they will do that? Will they have a choice? That would put us a good .50% higher than anywhere else in the area and would be a death knell for potential businesses or future home buyers. Sort of a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation.

  32. Brian Leeper said on 4 Mar 2009 at 10:07 pm:
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    I hope they’re taking a long hard look at all the junk that’s been added to the budget over the last 8 years…you know, the stuff that was so easy to justify based ever-increasing assessments.

  33. Brian Leeper said on 4 Mar 2009 at 10:08 pm:
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    based on ever-increasing assessments.

  34. What I know said on 7 Mar 2009 at 10:40 am:
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    Yes, your right. Our Tax went up from last year $250 plus an out put of $450 to try and keep it even. We got a notice 2 mos. ago to pay $600 plus our payment would only go up $35 dollars. The assesment goes down but the Taxes go up Why?

    Someone is still paying games.

  35. park'd said on 7 Mar 2009 at 9:37 pm:
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    what i know: not much of what you wrote makes any sense. Where do you live, when did you get a new tax bill this year? How have you paid more taxes this year when the new rate hasn’t even taken effect yet? Care to elaborate?

  36. freedom said on 8 Mar 2009 at 11:50 am:
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    Brian Leeper, just what kind of “…junk that’s been added to the budget over the last 8 years…” do you have in mind?

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