- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A delegate from Northern Virginia will announce a plan today to cap property taxes statewide.

Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick said that under his plan, property-tax assessments could not increase more than 1 percent plus inflation each year, and that the tax rate could not grow more than 1 percent annually.

Mr. Frederick said his tax-cut plan will be central to his re-election campaign. All 100 delegates are up for re-election in November.

“Whether they are high- or low-income homes, the complaint is the same — people are raging about their property-tax bills,” the Prince William County Republican told The Washington Times yesterday. “It’s incredible how much people are talking about this.”

If re-elected in November, Mr. Frederick would seek approval for his plan in the form of a constitutional amendment, which would take three years to take effect if it passes the state legislature next year.

The amendment would set a base property assessment value and tax rate at those on record one year before the amendment passes. The increase caps would then be adjusted to that base assessment and tax rate.

A new baseline would be established if the property is sold or improved.

Mr. Frederick said families are being forced to leave Virginia because of skyrocketing assessments and because the system is unpredictable. He thinks his plan would put families at ease.

Mr. Frederick said that under his plan, a north Woodbridge resident with a home assessed at $392,600 this year would save $763.74. The following year, property taxes would increase by $121.16, he said.

A Montclair resident with a home assessed at $675,700 this year would save $795.47 under the plan. The following year, property taxes would increase by $226.82, he said.

This is the latest in a series of property-tax savings plans outlined during the election year, when voters also will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat so far unopposed for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, is touting a plan that would allow local governments to exempt up to 20 percent of the assessed value of homes and small farms. Mr. Kaine’s plan also would allow homeowners to remodel or add on to their homes without paying taxes on the improvements for 15 years.

Under Mr. Kaine’s plan, a Fairfax County resident with a house assessed at $400,000 last year would save $920 under the exemption.

Former state Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican seeking his party’s nomination for governor, proposed a plan that would limit the growth of real estate assessments to no more than 5 percent a year unless the property is sold or improved.

Mr. Kilgore’s campaign did not release any examples of how much money Virginians would save under the proposed cap.

Mr. Frederick said he supports Mr. Kilgore’s plan. “Anything we can do to relieve taxpayers of this burden is helpful,” he said.

Candidates in other statewide races also have proposed plans that could cut real estate taxes.

Sen. William T. Bolling, Mechanicsville Republican, who is running for lieutenant governor, has proposed a plan to freeze property assessments for low- and middle-income homeowners 65 years of age or older.

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