UPDATE: Some additional information added.
The council approved a real estate tax rate increase of about 7 cents at Wednesday night's budget meeting.
Taxpayers will have to contend with a $1.01 per $100 assessed value. One cent of that is for the city's stormwater fund. That's under the new Fairfax County tax rate of $1.095 per $100 of assessed value (2 cents of that dedicated the county's stormwater fund).
Fairfax City staff initially recommended raising real estate taxes by 11.5 cents to $1.05 by $100 assessed value. to 93.7 cents from the recommended $1.
For homeowners, that amounts to
- $3,535 for a home assessed at $350,000
- $4,545 for a home assessed at $450,000
- $5,555 for a home assessed at $550,000
The average 2012 real estate tax increase to commercial property owners in the city, based on the average increase in assessment (3.1 percent) and increased tax rate ($0.942 to $1.01), is 10.5 percent, said Asst. City Manager David Hodgkins.
Council members voted unanimously to give all city employees a 1 percent COLA increase, as well as a 3.5 percent merit increase for general employees and a 5 percent merit increase for emergency personnel.
Mayor Rob Lederer suggested the COLA increase in an effort to keep city employees from leaving for other jurisdictions. He expressed a special concern for spending money to train fire and police staff only to have them leave the city for better opportunities elsewhere.
Council members also voted to permit advertising on CUE buses. Ads will be sought for the sides of buses, inside buses and in bus shelters to help offset the public transportation system's loss in revenue. This is on top of a 10 cent fare increase.
They also cut CUE bus weeknight service by an hour. The buses won't run from 12-1 a.m. on Friday and from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays.
Lederer warned the council that the city will continue to face deficits in CUE bus revenue unless something drastic changes. City staff plans to ask George Mason University for more funding to support the transportation system.
Council members decided to from four personnel to three, despite fire department protests. City staff will also approach GMU for funding to reinstate the minimum staffing at a later date.
Other budget highlights:
- Water rate will increase by 7.5 percent or $6.47 per quarter for the average consumer. This will provide an additional $201,200 for water infrastructure upgrades and rising costs.
- Wastewater rate will increase by 12 percent or $10.10 per quarter for the average consumer. This will provide an additional $293,200 for water infrastructure upgrades and rising costs.
- The city will keep its separate commercial tax rate. This tax was established in 2008. All revenue raised will continue to be used for transportation projects in the city.