Manassas plans in the works to sweeten up a rehabilitation program meant to help owners of older buildings fix up their property.
The city’s land use committee is considering a plan to allow owners of buildings more than 30 years old to apply for a tax break on any improvements made to their property.
“It means revitalization of many pieces of property. And in the longer term, the city will generate more tax revenue,” said Commissioner of the Revenue John Grzejka.
At this time, owners of buildings more than 60 years old are able to apply for tax breaks. But more than 24 percent of the city’s commercial and residential property now lies in the 30- to 60-year-old range.
Owners of qualifying commercial buildings and homes would not have to pay any taxes for five years on any additional real estate value created by improvements. Other commercial buildings would be eligible for partial tax breaks.
After the first five years, the city would phase out the tax breaks for an additional five years.
Councilman Ulysses “Xerk” White believes proposed changes to the tax breaks will help Manassas keep a competitive edge with its neighbors.
“We have to find out how we are going to attract good development. And I think it’s a good approach,” he said.
The committee is looking at making other changes to the program:
A homeowner would only have to increase the value of a house by 30 percent in order to qualify, a lower increase than the previous 50 percent limit;
value of commercial real estate would only have to go up 30 percent, rather than the previous 60 percent limit;
tax breaks would apply to houses that increase in size by as much as 30 percent, double the present 15 percent limit;
businesses, which before were not able to qualify if more than doubling in size, would no longer have an actual limit, with a complete tax break applying to the first 100 percent increase and lower decreases applying to additional expansion;
a homeowner would receive a tax break for 10 years, rather than the current five years.
White said the City Council may vote on the changes as soon as July.
When asked how much the tax breaks would cost the city, Grzejka says the city hasn’t studied the question yet. But the present program, he said, has received few applicants.
Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703)368-3101, Ext. 119.