Posted by Vital Facts Profiles of Virginia on
Founded at Jamestown in 1607, as the first permanent English settlement in America, the Commonwealth of Virginia boasts 120 miles of sparkling coastline with many islands, inlets and bays, awealth of impor- tant historic sites, many famous schools and colleges, pleasant rolling hills and, farther to the west, the spectacular beauty of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains. Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford, and Loudoun counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax City, Manassas and Manassas Park, (which may be considered as part of the Washington area) have increased in population.
The state population is over 7,078,515 residents. Virginia includes 95 counties, 40 independent cities, and 189 incorporated towns. Any town of 5,000 population may vote to become a city, whereupon it ceases to be a part of the county and levies its own taxes. However, no new towns may be created to counties, such as Fairfax, where the urban county executive system of government is utilized. Virginia ranks in the bottom third among the states with regard to the tax load carried by its citizens. The Virginia economy is strong, stable, and very diverse.
The basic sectors include manufacturing, federal government, military and civilian activities, tourism, agriculture, ports, mining, and fisheries. A commuter rail service linking Northern Virginia suburbs with downtown Washington has been developed by local governments, Metro 202-637-7000. Tax Situation: State income tax: 2%, first $3,000 taxable income; 3%, next $2,000; 5% between $5,001 and $17,000; 5.7% over $17,000 additional income. Real estate and personal property: rates set locally and vary. Sales: 3.5% of retail price plus 1% levied by localities on almost all consumer goods and products, including clothing, tools and sports equipment. Gasoline: $.17.6/gal. plus 2% of purchase price in Northern Virginia. Liquor: 20% of retail price. State tax on cigarettes: 2.5 cents per pack. Property tax laws provide for tax assessment of real property at a market value of homes and business land or buildings.
The average effective tax rate on real estate is $.94 per $100. In general, cities must reassess every second year and counties every fourth year, except any locality may assess on an annual basis. Virginia residents also pay personal property tax on such things as vehicles, boats, planes, trailers, etc. Rates are set by the individual jurisdictions. Public and Private Schools: Virginia's public school system includes 2,051 schools, with 1,164 elemen- tary schools, 290 middle schools, 285 high schools, 46 combined grade schools, and 266 other local or voca- tional, and alternative schools; enrollment 1,143,85. The per pupil expense for education $6,523 (most cur- rent figure available), and the pupil/teacher ratio: elementary 14:1, secondary 12:1. Average teacher's salary: elementary $35,337) secondary $38,053 (most current figure available).
Officially recognized non-public schools number approximately 350, including 200 fully, accredited private schools. Enrollment: approximately 82,000. Public higher education facilities include 15 4-year institutions; 24 2-year colleges and 49 private 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. All public schools are operated by county and municipal governments in Virginia.Colleges: Northern Virginia Community Colleges, George Mason University, University of Virginia Center for Continuing Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Virginia State, Marymount, University of Virginia extension courses, and many others.
Medical Facilities: With 95 (2000) licensed hospitals plus 26 ambulatory surgical facilities, Virginia has one of the highest averages of accredited hospitals in the nation. These are evenly distributed, and no community is far from a hospital or beyond the services of physicians, dentists or registered nurses. Crisislink Hotline: 703-527-4077.
Recreational Facilities: The state park system includes 32 parks, 7 historical sites and 30 natural areas (undeveloped with environmental or scenic significance) well distributed. 3 state and 2 national forests provide designated areas for hunting and fishing, and 7 large lakes, created by dams, add greatly to Virginia's outdoor resources. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns more than 9,000 acres ofparkland and operates 15 major recreational facilities which supplement those of local governments.
The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is a 44-mile-long linear park enjoyed by bikers and joggers from the Potomac to the Blue Ridge. Mt. Rogers National Recreational Area is also located near the Blue Ridge. Four resort areas (Bryce, The Homestead, Massanutten, and Wintergreen) include facilities for winter sports. Golf is a year-round sport with over 200 9- and 18-hole courses. There are more than 165,000 pleasure boats on Virginia waters, and almost 60 annual regattas for sail and power craft. Saltwater sport fishing is unexcelled.
Driver's License: Minimum age is 16 with parental signature required until age 18; road and classroom driver education course required for those under 19; license fee of $12.00 per year, good for 5 years. Learner's permit can be obtained at age 15 yrs., covering a year of driving within state only when accompanied by licensed driver 21 years or older seated next to driver. Newcomers with valid out-of-state permits must pass a vision test. Armed services personnel and their spouses are permitted to operate motor vehicles in Virginia on valid, home-state driving permits.
Otherwise, one must apply for a Virginia operator's permit and vehicle registration within 30 days of becoming a resident of the state. Valid license plates from another state or country are also accepted for 30 days. Motor Vehicle Bureau: general information; 1-866-368-5463.Insurance: You must have liability insurance amounting to $25,000 per person or $50,000 for two or more persons per accident for personal injuries, and $20,000 for property damage, or pay a $300 uninsured motor vehicle annual fee which provides no insurance.
Motor Vehicle Taxes and Inspection: Tiding fee: $10 per vehicle, 3% state sales and use tax on retail price on all vehicles registered in state (exempt are cars where owners prove they previously paid a vehicle sales tax elsewhere) and $35 sales tax on vehicles priced below $1,166. Annual state registration costs $28.50 (for passenger cars up to 2 tons, $31.50 for 4,001 Ibs. or more). Annual automobile inspection is required and is available at official inspection stations; the fee is $10. There is also an emissions inspection in Northern Virginia ($11.40 testing fee, good for 2 years.)
Right Turn on Red: Permitted in Virginia at all traffic lights after turning vehicle stops to yield right of way, unless otherwise posted.
Speed Limits: Speed limits are posted at 65 mph and 55 mph. School, residential, and business zones are 25 mph.