Fauquier Mythbusters

Myth: Fauquier is “no growth.”

Fact: Fauquier County has grown steadily over time and often at a faster rate than other places in the Commonwealth. Since 2010, estimates have Fauquier County growing at 3.5%, only slightly slower than the Virginia average of 4.1%. In fact, Fauquier County’s growth rate was 40% higher than Virginia’s growth rate between 2000 and 2010. Residential development and the number of business establishments in the County have also steadily increased over time (see graph).

U.S. Census Bureau
Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Demographics Research Group

Myth: Fauquier has a higher than average tax rate.

Fact: Fauquier’s 2015 real estate tax rate ($0.992*) is significantly lower than nearby Loudoun ($1.155) and Prince William ($1.2212**). In Fauquier, the median real estate taxes paid as a per­centage of median home value is 0.75%, which is less than the U.S. average of 1.08%. The taxes paid as a percentage of median income is 2.85%, which is also less than the U.S. average of 3.13%.

Fauquier County FY 2015 Adopted Budget (*rate includes Fire and Rescue Levy of $0.045 and PDR Conservation Easement Program of $0.006)
Loudoun County FY 2015 Adopted Budget
Prince William County FY 2015 Adopted Budget (**rate includes Fire and Rescue Levy of $0.0707 and Mosquito and Forest Pest Management of $0.0025)
Tax Foundation: http://interactive.taxfounda­tion.org/propertytax/ Used 2008-2010 three year average.

Myth: My taxes would be lower if we had more growth.

Fact: It’s the type of growth and where it occurs that matters. Counties to our east like Prince William and Fairfax have experienced more growth and pay higher taxes. If a locality grows quickly over a large geographic area, the cost of providing basic services such as schools, public safety, trash collection and landfills, etc., can quickly exceed the resources of the locality, often requir­ing increases in taxes and government debt. Localities need to carefully plan for growth to ensure that public infrastruc­ture and services can be provided in a cost effective manner.

Myth: There’s no place for new development in Fauquier County.

Fact: All of the Service Districts still have significant room to grow. For example, there are over 400 acres of commercial and industrial land planned for in Opal. In Bealeton, there are over 100 acres of undeveloped commercial and industrial land and plenty of room for higher density development throughout. There is also an abundant amount of residential zoning avail­able in the County. Investments need to be made in these areas to improve transportation, reliability of water infrastructure, pedestrian level landscaping and architecture, park and recre­ational opportunities, and retail options. Continuously expanding our service districts makes it increasingly difficult to afford these needed improvements.

Fauquier County 2014 GIS Data,
Fauquier County GIS Department. Fauquier County Real Estate Online: http://reo.fauquiercounty.gov/. Date accessed January 2015.

Myth: Our local economy is in bad shape.

Fact: The numbers show a different story. Fauquier has a low unemployment rate of 3.6%* as of December 2014, which is significantly lower than Virginia’s rate of 4.8% and the nationwide rate of 5.6%. Fauquier also has one of the highest median house­hold incomes in the country at $88,409, while the U.S. median household income is $53,046 and Virginia is $63,907. Additionally: • Sales tax revenues have been on the rise since 2010. • Residential foreclosures and short sales continue to decline. • The median home values are returning to the rates of the early 2000s. • The average number of days that homes are on the market is continuing to decline. • The number of houses sold has stabilized to pre-recession levels.

Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Date accessed February 2015. *County data is not seasonally adjusted.
Fauquier County of Office of Management and Budget: Fauquier County Economic Indicators.
U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.

Myth: Fauquier isn’t friendly toward agritourism.

Fact: Agritourism is alive and well in Fauquier County. With 25 wineries, Fauquier ranks second in the state. The equine industry remains extremely important, providing 883 jobs in Fauquier and $2,113,116 in tax revenue in 2010, with Fauquier being home to several fox hunts and horse shows and two of the largest steeplechase races in the Country—the Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup. There are also ten bed & breakfasts, five farmers’ markets, and a number of pick-your-own orchards, corn mazes, and on-site farm tours in the county.

Fauquier County Department of Economic Development: www.visitfauquier.com/wineries.html. Date accessed February 2015.
The economic impact of the horse industry in Virginia 2011 study.

Myth: Land with a conservation easement limits farming.

Fact: A significant amount of land under easement is actively farmed while other land is managed for different purposes. Easements help support clean air and water, offer natural habitats for wildlife, and scenic open space for residents and tourists. In 2014, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation conducted a survey of 631 landowners with land under easement, and they determined that 90% of those landowners are “managing their protected lands for agricultural production or forestry.” And 70% said they “used the tax credits to implement land management practices that benefit water, soil, wildlife, or forest quality or that provide other conservation benefits.”

Survey, “Opinions on and Use of Land Preservation Tax Credits Among Landowners Who Have Donated Easements to the Virginia Outdoor Foundation”—available at www.virginiaoutdoorsfoundation.org

Myth: Conservation easements are just for wealthy landowners.

Fact: Landowners from all walks of life place conservation easements on their property. Easements can either be donated or purchased. The existence of the transferable tax credit and options like Fauquier’s Purchase of Development Rights program help make placing a conservation easement an accessible option for people from every income level.

Myth: I don’t benefit from land conservation.

Fact: Conservation easements come in all different shapes and sizes and provide different public benefits—such as reducing devel­opment pressure in the rural area, providing cleaner air and water, keeping prime land available for agriculture and forestry, providing wildlife habitat, offering recreational opportunities, and preserv­ing the scenic landscape that residents and tourists alike can enjoy. 

This article was featured in our Fauquier County Special Edition of The Piedmont View. You can read more of the articles online or view a PDF of the publication. The publication was issued by The Piedmont Environmental Council, in partnership with the Goose Creek Association, Citizens for Fauquier County, Fauquier Preservation Society, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, Mosby Heritage Association and the Remington Community Partnership.