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Spotsylvania and Stafford counties are very similar. Both are "bedroom" communities of Washington, D.C., with similar populations, student base, real estate tax base, and services. I know--I've lived in each county for many years.
But there is one big thing a family notices when moving from Spotsy to Stafford--a whopping higher tax bill on their home. The 26 percent higher property tax rate ($1.07 per $100 of assessed value vs. $0.85 per $100 of assessed value) means about $600 more per year on a $250,000 home. This is even after tax cuts in recent years.
Stafford's revenue from its real estate tax swamps what Spotsy brings in through that county's Business, Professional, and Occupational License tax--so much so that per capita taxes in Stafford are still $51 per person higher. At 129,000 residents, that's about $6.5 million. Since a penny on the tax rate means $1.3 million in revenue, Stafford could afford to cut its tax rate 5 cents and still have the same per capita tax burden as Spotsylvania.
Claims that Stafford schools have lower teacher pay or aid from the state are also untrue: The average teacher earns $53,947 per year in Stafford, and $51,498 in Spotsylvania. Stafford gets $136 million in school aid from the state each year; Spotsylvania receives $118 million.
Times are tough on families, and Stafford families shouldn't be paying more than Spotsy. Cut the tax rate!