Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church




This week’s significant snowfall may not have been “the big one” that snow lovers dream of, but it once again provides reminders for safe driving in the stuff.

Hopefully it’s the last snow for the season, but just in case it isn’t, here are a few tips. Scraping six inches of snow from your vehicle might not be pleasant, but it’s crucial to safe driving, for yourself and others on the road. Please take the time to remove all the snow from all your windows; don’t just scrape off a little in the middle of your driver’s side windshield! Use your headlights so others can see you, even in daytime, and dust snow off both head-lights and tail lights before heading out. My favorite? Take a broom and brush all the snow off the top of your car. There’s nothing quite as scary as having the snow fly off the vehicle in front of you on the highway and head toward your windshield, or have the snow pack on your own roof crash down your windshield when you step on the brake. Preparation takes a little time, but it’s worth it for a safe trip to wherever you are going.

Fairfax County real estate assessments were mailed last week. There were 335,342 taxable parcels, out of 352,526 overall, that had some value change. More than 95 percent of residential properties had an assessment decrease for 2009. Overall, the equalization change averaged 12.55 percent for residential properties, although many homeowners saw even greater declines. Townhouse values were down 16 percent; condominium values decreased nearly 20 percent. Of all the nearly 40,000 residential properties in Mason District, only Lake Barcroft values remained constant from 2008. For the county, the decrease in taxable real estate assessments was $22.86 billion, or 9.95 percent, of the $206.8 billion in residential properties.

Inquiries about any assessment should be directed to the Department of Tax Administration (DTA), at 703/222-8234, or you may contact DTA through its homepage: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta. You also can obtain a list of residential sales within your assessment neighborhood from the DTA Web site. If you believe that your assessment is not comparable to similar properties, you can appeal in writing to the Real Estate Division of DTA; applications may be downloaded from the homepage. Appeal applications should be filed by April 3.

The Board of Equalization (BOE) also considers appeals. Under state law, the BOE is separate from DTA and consists of nine taxpayers appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The BOE conducts formal hearings and takes sworn testimony. All appeals to the BOE must be filed and postmarked by June 1, 2009. Forms and other information are available on the BOE website: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/boe/.

On a lighter note, by recommendation of the Commission on the Future of the Arts in Fairfax County, a new Web page for arts information was added to the county’s Web site. The new page, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/arts, highlights upcoming county-sponsored events and activities, and also links to key arts organizations, such as the Arts Council of Fairfax. If you are an artist, or like the arts – any kind of fine or applied art, music, dance, performing arts, etc. – the new arts page, and the Arts Council, are for you! Support your favorite artists by attending a performance, going to a gallery, or sending a check! In Fairfax County, the arts should be a thrill, not a frill! They need our support.