…Stewart, R-At Large, would nearly triple the property tax rate on “programmable computer equipment,” a change primarily aimed at data centers, in the fiscal year that begins July 1. His plan would take the tax from $1.25 per $100 in assessed value to $3.70 per $100, which would equal the personal-property tax rate that residents pay for their cars and trucks.
“This is just asking them, just pay the same rate as you all do right now,” Stewart said of data centers at a public meeting Tuesday. The county decreased the computer property tax rate more than 20 years ago to draw high-tech firms, and later data centers, to Prince William. But now Stewart thinks it’s only fair to bring the rate back up, and his proposal has been the most controversial the supervisors have discussed as they consider a $3.1 billion Prince William budget that County Executive Chris Martino proposes for the next fiscal year.
Martino’s budget would be funded by maintaining the real-estate tax rate of $1.125 per $100 in assessed value, but average annual tax bills would still rise $146 thanks to rising real-estate values and an increase in the county’s fire levy from $0.0792 per $100 in assessed value to $0.0837.
If Stewart had his way, though, his plan to boost the computer property tax rate would generate $21.7 million. On Tuesday, he proposed using $5.9 million to reduce the real-estate tax rate from $1.125 per $100 to $1.115. It also would eliminate the .0045 increase in the fire levy.Stewart’s plan would spend the remaining $15.8 million on various county needs. The Prince William County School division would get an extra $9 million, while $2.5 million would be directed toward raises for police, sheriff’s office and jail employees. Stewart would spend $200,000 on a public-safety supplemental retirement study and $100,000 on reducing the waiting list for day services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The numbers, however, didn’t convince Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville; Marty Nohe, R-Coles; or Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, that the computer tax should be increased. Stewart’s plan needs the support of five of the eight board members to pass.Supervisors said they are concerned about raising the tax rate on an industry that’s paying an increasingly larger chunk of the county’s bills.
Lawson, for example, pointed out that from 2010 to 2017, total tax revenue from data centers grew 612 percent, from $3.6 million to $25.7 million…