Holy Batman! The double digit jump in the City of Falls Church’s real estate assessments announced yesterday is the biggest in over a decade, since before the Great Recession hit in 2008 and some on the City Council reached by the News-Press yesterday are ecstatic that the new revenues this will generate will insure that the City continues its commitment to nationally-renowned quality education and quality of life services for its citizens that will improve things in many important ways in the coming year.
Certainly, Mayor David Tarter’s important remarks to the F.C. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, as reported in this edition, set a positive tone reporting the kind of results that good local government here has achieved to, as Councilman David Snyder said in comments to the News-Press yesterday, “create a place that people want to be.” The assessments report released yesterday certainly reflect that, representing the highest single year leap for the City since 2004, when they almost doubled.
Of course, the Council will be tasked as it crafts the City budget for the next year, due for final approval by May 2, with offering some serious offsetting elements, such as a generous tax rate cut and other mitigating factors, to shield City residents from the full impact on their tax bills of what has transpired. It’s currently operating on the notion that a rate cut as high as four cents would be within the parameters set earlier this year, but that was before the new assessments came in as high as they have. Some on the Council are cautioning that no early predictions on tax rate cuts should be made until there is a serious consideration of what the City needs to fund on behalf of all its citizens, as Council member Debbie Shantz-Hiscott told the News-Press. Given that well-considered aspect, we’ll have to wait and see what kinds of proposals Council members come up with.
But Council member Phil Duncan said the big jump “creates a terrific opportunity…to meet all reasonable expenses for our schools and general government while also substantially reducing the property tax rate” that, he said, he’d like to see go down from $1.32 at present (down from $1.335 a year ago) to $1.25, and for expanding tax relief and deferral options for seniors. But he crowed that the total value of real estate in the City, topping $5 billion for the first time, “is thanks to the City’s sustained commitment to economic development, to great neighborhoods and to excellence in public education and municipal services.”
It will challenge the Council, now engaging the issue of affordable housing, in a way it hasn’t been to date, with some more serious efforts to make the City a truly diverse and welcoming place for persons of varying incomes and abilities to afford the robust taxes they’ll be having to pay to live here. Let’s see what new practical ideas they come up with.