The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office isn’t waiting until the last minute in making preparations for a major switch in how property owners get charged for the county government’s stormwater efforts.
“We are already up to our eyeballs with all things stormwater!” Treasurer Carla de la Pava told the GazetteLeader.
That’s in preparation for next spring, when the first real-estate tax bills of 2024 are mailed out.
Property owners will no longer be billed a stormwater-tax surcharge based on a parcel’s assessed valuation. Instead, they will be charged – exact amount to be set later this year by the County Board – based on the amount of impervious surface on their property.
That would seem to make the process more fair, since the more impervious surface (structures and driveways, to name two), the more runoff that the county government must contend with.
De la Pava told the GazetteLeader that her staff is working with relevant offices across the county government to develop the systems for accurately billing and collection.
“The biggest issue for us is that many of the properties – think churches, [private] schools, etc. – are not taxed and, therefore, were not even in our tax system.”
The treasurer’s office already has begun testing the software needed to in these properties, which will remain exempt from real-estate taxes but not from the stormwater fee.
County-government officials acknowledge there will be winners and losers with the new system. Some properties will see their costs go up, others down.
For homeowners with mortgages, bills will be sent to loan services as in the past, so the transition may go by unnoticed except for a possible adjustment in their mortgage payments. Those who own their homes outright will receive letters from the county government’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) about the changes.
Once the bills start rolling out, de la Pava said she expects phone calls to start rolling in. “We will dutifully transfer them to DES,” she said.
The treasurer said county officials have been working to get the word out. She also gave high praise to civic activist Suzanne Sundburg for attempting to get members of the public up to speed.
De la Pava has been Arlington’s elected treasurer for a decade and is unopposed for re-election to another four-year term in November.