Countywide

Fairfax County giving its tax payment system a much-needed overhaul

Money on a table (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Fairfax County could be putting a little more money into a program that aims to make paying taxes in the county easier.

At a budget committee meeting on Tuesday (March 28), the Board of Supervisors got a briefing on the fiscal year 2023 third quarter review, looking over how staff are proposing to use a net $51.2 million in available funding.

Most of that new funding comes from interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve to rein in inflation. That resulted in an additional $37.58 million for the county, which also saw an increase of $11.23 million in revenue from personal property taxes.

The lion’s share of that funding is going to capital projects, like courtroom renovations, but county staff have proposed using $18.96 million for information technology (IT) improvements that could, in part, go into effect by the end of the year.

The one most residents will likely notice is an upgrade to the county’s tax payment systems. While a precise timeline for what will be a multi-year overhaul is still being worked out, staff said the $4 million proposed in the FY 2023 third quarter review would give the program a substantial boost.

“This gives us a good downpayment to get the work started,” said Jay Doshi, director of the Department of Tax Administration. “[The IT Department] has been not only partnering with us, but reaching out to vendors who will offer services to get us to where we’d like to be.”

IT staff said the plan is to have some improvements in place by this fall for residents filing property taxes.

“We’ve relied for a long time on people mailing in checks, paying an exorbitant fee with their credit card, or standing right outside this hallway,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I think this is a short-term improvement but will have long-term benefits…I’m glad to hear at least the beginning parts to this, some of the pieces our citizens will experience, will be forthcoming as soon as this fall.”

Other notable allocations in the third-quarter review include $400,000 to help the Fairfax County Park Authority clear running bamboo, $4.1 million to cover increased overtime costs for Fire and Rescue personnel, and a total of $1.75 million for road and parks signage related to the Route 29 and 50 renamings.

The removal of the names Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway has to be voted on by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has the authority to name state roads, Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson Robin Geiger confirmed.

The board met earlier this week, but the topic wasn’t on its agenda.

“The allocation of funds is in preparation of the approval of the name changes,” Geiger said.