Prince William County will leave the rate on real estate taxes unchanged for the next fiscal year, as the budget reality of the COVID-19 pandemic forced supervisors to ditch new spending and a proposed tax rate increase.
More than 25 Prince William County residents who talked remotely to the board of county supervisors Tuesday were divided with many supporting a proposal to keep the real estate tax rate steady in an effort to fund schools and social services, while others said the county should decrease the tax rate as thousands in the county have lost jobs and others face furloughs and an uncertain future amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board adopted its $1.09 billion budget for fiscal year 2021 that starts July 1. The board adopted the same real estate tax rate as this fiscal year: $1.125 for every $100 of assessed value. That doesn’t mean that taxes won’t go up. Residents who have seen property values climb will see an increase in their tax bill, about a $177 increase on the average residential tax bill.
The vote was 5-3. Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, and Yesli Vega, R-Coles, argued for a tax rate of $1.085 per every $100 of value.
Democratic supervisors argued the cuts would limit county services. Supervisors also voted to increase the tax rate on computer equipment by 10 cents to $1.35 per every $100 of assessed value — a charge that primarily affects data centers. The adopted budget has $40.6 million less than staff had proposed on Feb. 18. Of that money, $22.7 million was expected to be added to school division revenue.
The board ended up allocating $629.6 million to the division, including $625.3 million that is part of the county’s revenue sharing agreement, along with additional funding for class size reduction, costs related to the 13th high school and more.
Chair Ann Wheeler said she expects the board will have to revisit its budget every quarter due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.