County Administrator Kirby Bowers has the unenviable job that no political leader wants - proposing a tax increase in the face of an economic downturn.
The proposed fiscal plan includes a $1.216 real property tax rate for the county government, school system, and Fire and EMS Tax District. Because of lower assessed values, the proposed tax rate would result in an increase of about 13.6 percent, or $640, in the average residential tax bill. The advertised budget includes an additional 5¢ on the real property tax rate to provide the Board of Supervisors with the option of fully funding the School Board’s budget proposal. - County Administrator's OfficeThe housing downturn has hit Loudoun County very hard. Since the vast majority of County revenues come from property taxes, the county suffers a double gut-punch when the housing market turns. First, the County loses out on recording and other taxes and fees from real estate sales that slow down. Second, the county loses tax revenue from declining assessments, on which property tax rates are based.
It has been well-documented that the citizens of Loudoun county need more county services, from schools to police to help for seniors to help for the homeless. We have an obligation to meet the needs of our citizens, provide the best education for our children and be responsible stewards of our future.
"There is an absolute demand in this county that children be educated, and educated well," said Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III, who added that he thinks county residents are willing to pay higher taxes for a better education system. "I understand that these are difficult economic times, but I also understand that we're expecting 3,200 more students next year." - LoudounExtraThe budget proposed by the County Administrator is responsible and responsive to the community's needs and limitations.
Bowers described the budget proposal as the most "lean" that Loudoun has considered since the early 1990s, saying most of its limited enhancements to county services are confined to public safety, including increased staffing for the sheriff's department. Personnel in the county's building and development department would be cut because the demand for building inspectors has waned with the slumping housing market. - LoudounExtraGoverning is hard. Cleaning up the messes left by the previous Board is even harder.
Last year, an election year, the average tax bill increased about 2 percent, which some current supervisors said contributed to the county's fiscal problems now.Sometimes, governing well means painful choices for our elected leaders. In 2008, that will be the case. Our Board of Supervisors will be asked to make a decision on the county budget, a decision which will please no one and anger many.
Burton said he thinks the last board "cut things way too close." - LoudounExtra
If the Board does not raise taxes, the schools will suffer, our children will be in classrooms with massive overcrowding, we may lose many good teachers who are not provided well-earned raises, many of our seniors and homeless will be left cold and hungry, and the county will fracture the very foundations of our quality of life by suspending maintenance and improvement of many roads, buildings and other critical infrastructure.
If the Board does raise taxes, the vocal minority who want the government to do nothing (except provide roads, police, fire, emergency services, a stable currency, contract enforcement, education for "other people," keeping the homeless away, provide clean water at low prices, and lock up people who don't look like them without ever increasing taxes and preferably lowering them every year) will excoriate our Board for profligacy.
I believe that most Loudoun citizens understand that good government and our quality-of-life does not come easily. It comes from years of responsible governance, regular re-examination of government priorities and programs, and yes, taxes.
To put it another way, you can’t support the things the government does – like caring for the elderly, establishing justice, and providing public education – and still maintain that the taxes that support those things are bad. - Government Is GoodThis year, it is critical that those of us who want to maintain our quality of life stand up for the Board of Supervisors against people who think the American way is free. We must be willing to say, and say proudly, "I am willing to pay for this way of life, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is and support the difficult decisions my Board is making." Because government is not bread and circuses, government is hard choices for the good of all, for the long-term preservation of our liberty and our happiness. Our Board knows this, and has laid the groundwork already to act accordingly.
I implore us all to respect that, and give them our support.
[update] VB Dems pointed at this utterly perfect quote.
If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributer cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk.And we wonder why Democrats are elected to clean up messes. From 1932 (the Great Depression) to 1976 (Watergate) to 1992 ("It's the Economy Stupid"), America turns to Democrats when there are real problems for real people that need real solutions.
And they do this so that they don't have to chip in on gas. - Lance Mannion
Loudoun has such a mess. We elected a Democratic Board majority to clean it up. We need to support them as they do so.