banner ad

Prince William Board Chair Proposes Scrapping Real Estate Tax Increases due to COVID-19 Recession

| April 13, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Prince William County Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Ann Wheeler

Monday, Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler (D) announced that she will no longer be proposing an increased residential property tax-rate.

Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and its significant effect on the local economy, she proposes keeping residential real estate property taxes flat at $1.125 per $100 in assessed value. She believes this will offer relief to citizens in uncertain times. She previously proposed a residential property tax rate of $1.17 per $100 in assessed value to generate an additional $65 million in revenue.

Chief Executive Officer Chris Martino will present a revised budget at the Tuesday, April 14 Prince William Board of County Supervisors meeting at the McCoart Building in Manassas. The hearings are open to citizens, but the Chair encourages people to participate in Citizen’s Time virtually in real-time if they sign up through SpeakUp!PrinceWilliam.

At the April 1 meeting, Martino said that COVID-19 projection estimates the county will have a $30 million shortfall in FY21 to be shared with the schools even with at 1.17 tax rate. Keeping a flat tax rate will further hinder county revenue. Between the county and schools that it at least a $95 million decrease from the budget numbers they were working with in February.

Wheeler said keeping a flat tax rate will negatively impact the school budget as well. The school board is now prioritizing the purchase of laptops for students to facilitate distance learning due to the closing of schools.

At the county level, the COVID-19 crisis revealed a need for increased funding for Human Services. Martino informed the board that Prince William Department of Health has a high turnover rate for its nurses. Their state-based salary is not in keeping with the cost of living in the area.

To bring in some needed taxes revenue, Wheeler is proposing an increase the businesses “computer tax” as discussed in previous years. “This is why I am recommending increasing the programmable computer equipment and peripherals tax rate from $1.25 per $100 to $1.35 (applies to trades, businesses and data centers),” Wheeler wrote in her newsletter.

Wheeler also wants to increase personal property license fees from $24 to $33 for vehicles and from $12 to $20 for motorcycles.

Wheeler’s point of view shifted since April 1. At that time, she said she felt it was important not to fall backwards, noting the county is still behind from the cuts made in 2008. She also said the crisis high-lighted how the county and school employees are the “backbone” of the community.

Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) challenged her on tax increases. Candland said small businesses are struggling to even stay in business. He said that residents are the backbone of the community and while they are hurting, the county needs to offer relief.

Brentsville Supervisors Jeanine Lawson (R) asked that they could take as much time as possibly to make final budget decisions.

In Lawson’s newsletter last week, she said she would be fighting against any kind of residential tax increase for fiscal year 21.

“While unemployment claims skyrocket, now is NOT the time to raise taxes. Even our surrounding jurisdictions led by both political parties are cancelling their proposed tax hikes. This is why I joined Supervisors Pete Candland (Gainesville) and Yesli Vega (R-Coles) in requesting that the County Executive develop a Fiscal Year 2021 county budget that keeps our tax bills flat,” Lawson wrote.

Lawson detailed what the previously proposed tax increases would have meant to Brentsville residents. An average increase of $283-$531 next year depending upon assessed home values.

Lawson said it necessary to protect vulnerable populations, a sentiment Wheeler also expressed at the April 1 meeting.

Prince William Democrats had handily won majority control of the board of county supervisors and school board in November. With a healthy economy, those elected officials were determined to provide raises to county employees and make other improvements to departments and infrastructure.  More residents were accepting of tax increases with a good economy, and the focus was improvements for public schools, public safety and human services.

But all that  changed recently. Online petitions circulated asking the supervisors not to increase taxes. Small businesses were scrambling to find out how to apply for Payroll Protection loans and 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.

At the same time the world faces a health crisis. The number of cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Prince William County has grown to 434. Fairfax County cases have risen above 1,000.

How to participate in local government safety from home. 

Public Comments 

Although citizens can attend the public hearing, it is not necessary nor recommended especially if one can access technology that allows them to participate remotely. On April 14, citizens can participate the SpeakUp!Prince William Public Comment Time at 2 p.m., public hearing at 7:30 p.m. and the public hearing concerning the real estate tax rate at 8 p.m. The board will meet again to discuss the budget on April.

More information on watching or participating in the meetings and public hearings can be found here.  

“Wheeler Report” email newsletter, Monday, April 13, 2020: 
Dear Neighbors,
This is an important time for the county. In addition to being in the midst of a global pandemic creating new economic realities and uncertainties, we must comply with a state mandated deadline to adopt our fiscal year 2021 budget. I have devoted the first segment in this issue to ensuring you are well informed.
During our last Board meeting on March 31, our Chief Executive Officer, Chris Martino, shared stark news of the multi-million dollar shortfall the county will now face. Our county staff has worked tirelessly to make adjustments to get through this year and next. I am incredibly thankful for their efforts.
I want to provide what sense of stability I can for the people of Prince William County during this difficult time. Therefore, I cannot support the real property tax increase that the current proposed budget, even with adjustments, is constructed on. I directed Mr. Martino to prepare a budget keeping the real property tax at its current rate of $1.125 per $100 and present it on Tuesday afternoon for the Board to review. This will mean reductions in many areas and will also impact the funding of our school system.
However, we cannot ignore the extreme financial impact of the pandemic on the county finances and the increased need we will see for Human Services. This is why I am recommending increasing the programmable computer equipment and peripherals tax rate from $1.25 per $100 to $1.35 (applies to trades, businesses and data centers). I am also recommending increasing personal property license fees from $24 to $33 for vehicles and from $12 to $20 for motorcycles.
While my featured article contains quite a bit of detailed information about this week’s meetings, there is other news to share with you. I encourage you to please read the rest of this issue to be up to date on additional important items.
In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad