Fairfax: City Sets Advertised Real-Estate Tax Rate

Fairfax: City Sets Advertised Real-Estate Tax Rate

But the actual number may change in coming weeks.

In February, Fairfax City Manager Bob Sisson presented his proposed FY 2017 budget for the City. Explaining in great detail that Fairfax needs more money for employee pay, infrastructure improvements and its school system, he recommended raising the real estate tax by 2.7 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Doing so would make that tax rate $1.0815. But Sisson said it is necessary to continue all the services the City provides, including public safety, as well as a slew of capital improvements, including street maintenance. He recommended a hike in education funding and also earmarked funds to give each City employee an average 1.5 percent pay raise.

And at the March 8 meeting of the City Council, the Council members set the advertised tax rate at the number Sisson suggested. However, Mayor Scott Silverthorne stressed that this action only “sets the maximum tax rate that can be adopted. It doesn’t establish the actual tax rate.”

Councilman Michael DeMarco made the motion to advertise the rate at $1.0815 per $100 assessed valuation, and Councilman David Meyer seconded. “There’s still a fair amount we can discuss,” said DeMarco. “But setting it at the city manager’s recommendation is prudent at this point.”

“We still have challenging times ahead of us financially,” added Councilwoman Ellie Schmidt. “So we need to decide our priorities and how we’re going to fund them. Mine are safety and taking care of our infrastructure. But I know we’ll have to make some reductions.”

The Council eventually approved the motion, 5-1, with Councilwoman Nancy Loftus being the lone dissenter. “I hope we can stay at or below the current [real estate tax] rate [of $1.052 per $100 assessed valuation],” she said. “I’d like to keep some of our expenditures in line [with the current budget]. And the City will collect more money from the taxpayers, anyway, because tax assessments are up.”

Regardless, there is a great deal of work to be done before the final budget and tax rate are adopted on April 27. First, Silverthorne and the Council members will spend many hours going over the budget, line by line, and making their own proposals before they set the final, real estate tax rate. City residents will also get a chance to comment on the proposed FY 17 budget and the real-estate tax rate during public hearings set for March 22 and April 12 and 27, at 7 p.m., at Fairfax City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St.