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Alexandria City Council plays it safe with new maximum real estate tax rate

Alexandria’s City Council set the maximum real estate tax rate at a half-cent higher than the current rate, with officials saying that 2022’s hardships make any higher burden on residents untenable.

The City Council voted unanimously for the real estate tax rate to be set at no higher than $1.115 per $100 of assessed value, a slight increase from the current $1.11. While the eventual real estate tax rate could be lower than $1.115, it won’t be higher. Additionally, the city won’t increase the tax rate on personal property or business-tangible property.

Even so, most homeowners in Alexandria will still see taxes go up thanks to higher assessments, and the drop in tax revenue from hotels puts an even greater strain on the residential tax base.

At the current rate, the average residential tax bill is expected to increase by $445 or 6.5% compared to last year’s bill. At the maximum rate of $1.115, that residential tax rate bill would increase an average of $477 or 7%.

City Manager James Parajon’s proposed budget maintains the current tax rate. The additional half-cent provides some flexibility, but not as much as some on the Council would hope for with the city already facing calls for more funding to environmental and affordable housing needs.

“That half-cent is going to go quickly,” said City Council member Canek Aguirre, “so I hope everyone has an idea of where they’re going to find this money from.”

The new maximum rate was unanimously approved. A virtual public hearing on the real estate tax rate is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, and final budget adoption is scheduled for May 4.

“I do agree that we need to give ourselves the flexibility in order to make the decisions over the coming months and take into account any new information we get through our work sessions,” said City Council Member Alyia Gaskins. “At the same time I too and leaning more conservatively. I really do think this is going to be a hard time for our residents. I also think that we are in a unique time that we have ARPA funds and additional revenue coming in, so I think being able to think about ‘are we using that in the most strategic way possible.'”

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