Arlington, Va budget News

This just in from the county. Because property values have gone up,home owners will pay a bit more in taxes but the tax rate will not increase. I am sorry to see the Artisphere go. The Artisphere is an under appreciated, under attended venue that was never marketed well. I have seen some great exhibits and events there that no one has ever heard of. With the right marketing I think it could have been a money maker for the county.

Here’s the news release:

Arlington County Board: No Tax Rate Increase in CY 2015

Board marks-up FY 2016 Budget, final vote April 21
Collaborated with APS to fully fund Schools
Increasing public safety funding
Increasing economic development funding
Funding internal auditor
Maintaining social safety net, bike-pedestrian programs
The Arlington County Board today indicated it will not raise property tax rates for Calendar Year 2015 when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget on Tuesday, April 21. All five Board members indicated during the final budget work session that they will vote for no tax rate increase.

“By doing things smarter and more efficiently, and taking about $2.6 million in cuts, we have developed a balanced budget that preserves our community’s core values without raising the tax rate,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “This budget fully funds Schools, maintains core services and the social safety net, values our employees by providing a modest step increase, and invests more in the critical areas of economic development and public safety. I am confident that next week, we will adopt a budget that continues this County’s long track record of wisely managing taxpayer money while making strategic investments in infrastructure and environmental and economic sustainability.”

The Board voted unanimously to approve a package of changes to the County Manager’s Proposed Budget. The changes, called the “Chairman’s Mark” will be incorporated into the Budget that the Board will hold a final vote on at its Recessed Meeting on Tuesday, April 21.

Hynes noted that even without an increase in the tax rate, the average Arlington homeowner will see their property taxes rise due to an increase in assessments and a 1.8 percent increase in the water-sewer rate. The average homeowner will see their tax and fee burden rise from $7,286 to $7,567 – a four percent increase. That translates to about $23 a month or $281 a year.

“Every member of this Board is acutely aware of the tax burden on our residents,” Hynes said. “We felt strongly that we did not want to add to that burden.”

One of the biggest challenges the Board faced, she said, was meeting the needs of Arlington Public Schools, which is challenged by a continuing increase in student enrollment and the need to expand, refurbish or replace aging schools and build new ones. The Board added $6.18 million in funding, an increase of .6% from FY 2015, to fully meet the School Board’s request for funding.

“We were able to collaborate closely with the School Board to come up with a solution that works for Schools and works for our community,” Hynes said. “I commend the School Board for taking a hard look at their own budget and working with us to ensure that APS remains one of the best public school systems in the nation. Our action in this budget means that approximately 46.5% of locally generated revenue will be spent to support our youngest Arlingtonians.”

Artisphere to close, other cuts planned

The Board indicated that it will accept $2.6 million of the $4.1 million in proposed optional cuts offered by County Manager Barbara Donnellan when she unveiled her Proposed 2016 Budget in February. The largest of those cuts is achieved by closing Artisphere, the County’s critically acclaimed arts and cultural center in Rosslyn; conversion of Metrobus route 3A to ART service; redirection and transitional support for the 86-slot Kids in Action program located at Drew and Carver centers to APS Extended Day; and no expansion of the County’s urban agriculture offerings.

At the same time, the Board indicated that it will fully fund pedestrian-bike programs, the Fresh Aire environmental sustainability program and cluster care for seniors aging in place.

Responding to community requests the Board also will provide approximately $725,000 in funding to support the following: the Community Service Board’s request for mental health support at the Detention Center and a nurse practitioner at the Drewery Center, an additional Animal Control Officer for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, a salary supplement for Arlington’s Office of the Public Defender to ensure competitiveness and improve retention, staffing to cover an unfunded mandate requiring comprehensive data collection in the Circuit Court, and 5 new positions in the Sheriff’s Office.

Significant increase in economic development funding

The Board significantly boosted funding for economic development, citing the County’s historically high office vacancy rate and increased regional competition.

The County’s Department of Economic Development will gain $900,000 in funding and five new positions. In addition, it will gain $200,000 in funding for travel and tourism. The Board also said it intends to give the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, a non-profit that promotes economic development along the Columbia Pike corridor, $100,000 in additional funding to support its place-making and economic development activities. In addition, the Board will provide $200,000 to support TandemNSI, a public-private venture designed to connect federal agencies to tech entrepreneurs.

“Arlington must stay competitive; broadening our commercial base beyond the federal government is critical to ensuring the long-term economic viability and overall sustainability of our community,” Hynes said. “The Board’s willingness to invest more money in economic development underscores how serious we are about becoming a technological hub and attracting businesses – large and small, new and established – to our County.”

Employee compensation

The Board indicated that it will accept the Manager’s recommendation to give employees a step pay increase, fully fund pensions and reinstitute Live-Where-You-Work grants that provide grants to employees who want to rent or buy homes in Arlington.

The Board responded to more than 1,000 comments made by the public in two public hearings, letters, emails, phone calls and comments submitted through the County website. The Board also held a series of work sessions on the Budget. At the 6:30 p.m. session of the April County Board Recessed Meeting on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, the Board will hold its last public discussion on the FY 2016 Budget and vote on it. The Public Hearing on the Budget is closed and the Board will not be taking any further public testimony.

The FY 2015 Fiscal Year ends June 30, 2015.

Media Contact: Mary Curtius, 703-228-7943

Your Arlington Va. Real Estate Assessment

Yesterday evening I was chatting with a friend of mine who happens to be a resident of Vienna and she was expressing some concern over the increase in her property assessment. I told her that the bad news was she would probably have to pay more taxes but the good news is her home was undoubtedly worth more than it was last year. She was pretty firm in her belief that her assessment did not reflect the actual market value of her home. So, I thought I would share a little bit about the process here in Arlington, Va.

Do you live in Arlington?
Do you think your assessment is more than your property value? I know everyone thinks they pay too much taxes. In Arlington you are paying .996 per $100 of assessed value. In Fairfax they are paying $1.090 per $100 of assessed value.

Do you know what your assessment is? The county mails out assessments but if you don’t know what you did with yours go here:
Accept the terms and enter your address and you will see what your property is currently assessed at.

If you are sure your home’s value is less then the assessment then Arlington has an appeals process in place. It does work. I’ve used it myself. If you have questions about how to determine comparable values, you can always contact me and I can probably help you out.


So, here’s the process… hot off the county website (obviously we’ve passed the deadline for this year, March 2 but the process will still be here next year)

“Assessment Appeals

Appeals Filing Period

Individuals and businesses seeking to appeal their property tax assessments to the Department of Real Estate Assessments may do so between Jan. 1 – Mar. 2 for year 2015.

Applications must be postmarked by March 2

As appeal reviews may not be completed prior to the Board of Equalization appeal deadline of April 15, if you have not received your appeal results by April 1, you must file an appeal application with the Board of Equalization to preserve your right for an appeal before the board.

Property taxes are primarily based on assessed value as determined by the County Assessor. If you disagree with the value established by the Assessor, you can appeal to the Department of Real Estate Assessments and the Board of Equalization.

An assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher taxes. You must attempt to prove that your property’s market value is either inaccurate or unfair. Instructions and deadline dates for appeals are on the assessment notice you receive after Jan. 1.

You may appeal based on the following:

The Department of Real Estate Assessments has incorrect data on items that affect value – i.e. number of baths, error in square footage
You can prove that during the analysis period (September 1, 2013 – August 31, 2014), similar properties sold for less than the estimated market value of your property. Use the Property Data Search feature to compare assessments and view sales.
You can prove that while the estimated market value of your property is valid, it was not appraised in a manner equitable with similar properties during the analysis period.


There are three steps in the Appeal Process

Appeal to the Department of Real Estate Assessments
Appeal to the Board of Equalization
File suit in the Circuit Court

First Appeal: Department of Real Estate Assessments

Your first step is to contact the Department of Real Estate Assessments appraiser assigned to your neighborhood. Call 703-228-3920 for an informal session to find out how the assessment was determined.

If, after speaking with the appraiser, you still think the assessment is incorrect, you can submit a formal appeal form application.

An appraiser will contact you to schedule an inspection of your property. During the inspection, you may point out any information you believe should be factored into the value. You will receive a written notification of the decision by mail.

Second Appeal: Board of Equalization

If you disagree with the value established by the appraiser, your next appeal is to the Board of Equalization, which conducts hearings on assessment disputes. After weighing evidence submitted by both the property owner and the Department of Real Estate Assessments, the Board must make a fair, impartial decision.

State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. You must have strong enough evidence to show that the Assessor’s value is incorrect. Stating that your property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony.

The best way to judge the assessment of your property is to compare it to recent sales and and assessments of surrounding properties. Since all real estate assessments are a matter of public record, you can find the assessment of any property and a list of recent sales in the neighborhood using the Property Data Search site.
Establish what you think your property is worth by comparing recorded arm length transaction sales (those sales where the buyers and sellers have no relationship to each other) of similar properties between September 1 2013 – August 31, 2014 of the year in question.
Show that similar properties have inequitable values.
Submit all supporting evidence to the board by April 15, 2015.
Appeal Application Forms

Third Appeal: Circuit Court

If you do not agree with the decision from the Board of Equalization, your final step is to file suit in Circuit Court. This will usually involve hiring an attorney to represent you. For more information, contact:

Arlington County Circuit Court
1425 North Courthouse Road
Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-228-7010”

Ok, so now you know the process. However….before you go through all this, keep in mind that if you are going to be selling your house in the near future you may just want to suck up the higher taxes for a bit. Even though assessed value rarely mirrors market value, your buyer will be asking their agent about the assessment. Having your assessment at a higher level may give you a edge (even if it’s psychological) in negotiating for a higher price.

Sometimes it’s best to leave those sleeping dogs lying.

So you don’t miss any exciting posts, don’t forget to click the subscribe or follow buttons.

* Thumbs up image courtesy of