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On April 23, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the property tax rate by one cent to $1.085. With the increase in assessments, that translates to a 4.5 percent or $216 increase in taxes on the average homeowner. This increase is on top of a 1.9 percent increase last fiscal year (FY2013) and another 4.5 percent increase in next year’s tax bill (FY2015) if cuts are not made for a total of 11 percent over three years. I voted against this budget. Here is why.

For the first time in recent memory, our citizens are seeing significant tax increases at all three levels of government. We can and should have done better. Our furloughed residents do not have the option of raising revenues — they must make difficult cuts in their family’s budgets and that is what we as local government should be doing.

This one-cent increase to the tax rate is not one penny, it is a 4.5 percent increase and will mean an extra $216 out of the pocket of the average homeowner. Worse yet, those who least can afford it will see their bills go up by a whopping $700 due to the assessments on some condominiums and town houses that went up by 20 percent. That increase can be the difference between choosing Fairfax to live in, staying out of foreclosure, or in the ability of new families or the elderly being able to afford to support themselves here. We as a Board spend a lot of time talking about helping people in need, I can only say that when it came time to tax them, they were sadly forgotten.

Between 2000 and 2007 taxes doubled, and unfortunately now, in a time where Fairfax County citizens are having to tighten their belts, their governments refuse to do the same. Over my last five years on the Board of Supervisors, I have called for tax relief for our residents, but it seems the Board does not have the courage to make the tough decisions, much less the easy ones, to lower the tax burden on our homeowners. This Board is now on track to increase homeowner taxes a whopping 11 percent by next year.

Many Fairfax County residents see an uncertain future: furloughs, no pay increases, lay-offs, and a rising cost of living. Many have seen their pay stay the same but their expenses go up, and their take home pay go down. This is not the time to increase the tax burden on our already struggling homeowners. I am disappointed in the Board’s decision and their unwillingness to even consider some very simple changes, many of which I have advocated for since I took office, that could save the county and our citizens millions of dollars. What makes this worse is there were common sense options like privatization, cost reductions, addressing our pension issues, elimination of duplicate services, and greater efficiencies the Board could have implemented to reduce the burden on our taxpayers without a significant impact on the services our citizens have come to expect. I have outlined many of these options in my newsletter which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bwwnbek.

Pat Herrity

Springfield District Supervisor