A bipartisan agreement announced last week to impose tolls on I-66 inside the I-495 Beltway was hailed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. However, it isn’t a game-changer in the view of some commuters fighting HOV lane and clean fuel vehicle rules. The agreement “puts the interest of commuters ahead of Arlington,” which is to the good, according to Warrenton resident Greg Scott, who started The 66 Alliance.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Acting Prince William County executive Christopher E. Martino last week proposed a $2.9 billion county budget for the next fiscal year. The plan would increase the average residential real estate tax bill by nearly 4 percent, but it’s not clear that the levy will actually go up by that much. Martino’s plan follows budget-writing guidelines that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors established Dec. 15, which called for a 3.9 percent increase in the average homeowner tax bill in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That means that tax bills would go up by an average of $145, to $3,877. The real estate tax rate would be $1.145 per $100 of assessed value, up from $1.122.
Prince William Board split on tax rate, goes home
Prince William County’s elected leaders deadlocked over the tax rate. The majority Republican’s on the county’s top governing body shot down a motion to stick with a pre-approved five-year plan that would have raised the average home owner’s tax bill by $145, to $3,877. That increase would have funded automatically funded employee raises, and new investments in public safety, among other items. Each year Supervisors on the Board must advertise a tax rate for the public to comment upon. Once set, the rate cannot be raised but may only be lowered by the time the budget is approved April 19.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors failed to set the advertised tax rate at Tuesday’s meeting, which concerns Prince William County Schools, since their funding is intrinsically tied to the tax rate. PWCS Director of Communication Services Phil Kavits broke the news to faculty and staff in a division-wide message yesterday.
The Virginia Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that the median price of homes sold in January, with half the houses selling for more and half for less, was $245,500, up from $237,750 in the same month in 2015. A total of 5,757 homes were sold in the state in January, down slightly from the number sold in January 2015, according to the report.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage financing giants taken over by the government in 2008, plans to send taxpayers another $4.6 billion next month as they continue to play major roles in the country’s housing market. That will bring the total Fannie Mae has sent to the U.S. Treasury to $147.6 billion. Freddie Mac has forked over $98.2 billion. Combined, they have returned far more than the $187 billion the government spent to bail them out. That steady flow of cash to the government is complicating a long-simmering battle between Congress, regulators and an increasingly frustrated Wall Street over the fate of the companies — and their mega profits.
U.S. home sales crept upward in January, a sign that demand for housing remains strong amid signs of slower growth across the broader economy. But buyers face a dilemma: the number of listings on the market has fallen, giving them fewer choices and pushing prices to rise quickly. Sales of existing homes rose 0.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The gains build on a strong 2015 when sales reached their highest level in nine years. Last year ended with a 12.1 percent surge in December sales, as new regulations had delayed closings in November.
The Senate Finance Committee on Sunday adopted a two-year budget that would give state employees, state-supported local employees, college faculty and teachers a 2 percent raise this year. The proposal also would include $12.3 million to help state police and local sheriff’s departments keep the salaries of veteran employees ahead of those of new hires.
Prince William County’s largest professional trade association gathered in Richmond for Day on the Hill on February 17, 2016. In conjunction with Virginia Association of REALTORS®, REALTOR® Association of Prince William (PWAR) members met to speak with their respective Virginia General Assembly representatives. VAR has introduced four pieces of legislation aimed at protecting private property rights and clarifying some vague issues in state law. PWL Staff is also monitoring over 150 additional pieces of legislation that have the potential to impact Virginia’s 31,000 REALTORS® and the rights of property owners in the state.
A lawsuit challenging Virginia’s 2013 voting law requiring photo IDs continued Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond. The Democratic Party of Virginia filed the suit last June, alleging that the law enacted by the Republican majorities in the Virginia House and Senate restricting the type of identification required to vote could make it more difficult for minorities, the disadvantaged and the young to exercise their right to vote. Proponents said the law was needed to curb voter fraud by impersonation.