In recent days, supervisors have heard from teachers worried about not getting pay raises and residents concerned about another tax increase. Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) proposed dipping into reserve funds to set the real estate tax rate at $1.10. Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio proposed a tax rate of $1.07.We will all do well to remember that our Supervisors were elected to govern, to actually do something. That is what last night's vote is: an act of responsible government. It is always easier to sit back and snipe, to find fault, to discover some reason to oppose action, than it is to take responsible action.
In the end, though, Supervisor Jim Burton's (I-Blue Ridge) motion to set the tax rate at $1.14 passed 5-4, with Supervisor Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run), Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), York and Delgaudio opposed. - Leesburg Today
Driven by a new Democratic majority, the board narrowly approved a $1 billion spending plan that requires an 18-cent increase in the tax rate to $1.14 for each $100 of assessed value. The plan is expected to result in a 6.5 percent increase in the average homeowner's tax bill. The budget year starts July 1.In passing the Budget, our Supervisors refrained from squandering the rainy day fund on a short-term subsidy for lower taxes.
The tax-rate increase is necessary to make up for an unexpected drop in assessments across the county, as well as the rest of the Washington area, that has resulted in a $25 million shortfall this year. It is also to accommodate the needs of the fast-growing Loudoun school district, which is expected to swell by more than 3,000 students in the fall, officials said. - LoudounExtra
However, in a memo to supervisors Monday, County Administrator Kirby M. Bowers warned that dipping into the $108 million reserve could threaten Loudoun's fragile credit rating. That in turn could increase by millions of dollars the amount of interest that banks charge on the county's debt.This is a remarkable act of political courage for local elected officials, who will not get wide recognition for their willingness to compromise, but will instead see the tyranny of unreasonable expectations wreak havoc with their popularity. The majority took the best action possible for the long-term interests of Loudoun's taxpayers by avoiding using rainy-day money. In doing so, they provided a protection against higher interests payments in the future, in effect preserving lower taxes for the long-term by introducing marginally higher taxes today.
Fairfax County officials are considering drawing on their reserves to bridge a budget gap of at least $152 million, also exacerbated by the decline in housing values. However, Bowers noted, Fairfax has had a top credit rating for three decades, while Loudoun has had one only since 2004. - LoudounExtra
The five Supervisors who voted in favor of this budget put the duty of governing well and fiscal responsibility above short-term political gains and easy advancement of narrow, irresponsible agendas.
LoudounExtra closes its article with a reminder that these circumstances are the fruits of the seeds planted by the previous Board.
In part, Loudoun's problem is the pace of growth. Although growth has slowed since 2004, when Loudoun was declared the nation's fastest-growing county of its size by the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has struggled over the years to keep up by investing enough in public safety and its overburdened schools. - LoudounExtraThe County has posted an excellent summary of the new budget on its website. Before renewing the political clashes over this vote, interested parties would do very well to read this summary, and decide whether they, themselves, could have done any better for all of Loudoun's citizens.
The County gets the last word.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on April 1, 2008, approved a fiscal plan totaling about $1.6 billion for the general county government and school system for FY 2009. In response to the current economic and financial environment, the Board significantly reduced the budget that had been proposed by County Administrator Kirby M. Bowers, as well as the School Board budget request.
In adopting the FY 09 fiscal plan, the Board of Supervisors reduced the School Board’s budget request by $48.7 million. However, the school system will be able to use increases in state and federal funding. As a result, the school system will receive $55 million in additional revenue, including an additional $23.6 million in local tax funding, over FY 08.
Local tax funding for the general county government will increase by $13.3 million in FY 09. The Board reduced the County Administrator’s recommended expenditures for the general county government by $12.5 million. The adopted budget does not include funding for any new initiatives for the general county government. The Board only approved general county budget enhancements that are either offset by fees or that replace expired grant funding.
The fiscal plan includes a countywide real property tax rate of $1.14 per $100 in assessed value. This is a reduction of 7.6 cents from the $1.216 tax rate proposed by the County Administrator. Because of a decrease in the value of residential property assessments, the annual property tax bills for the average homeowner will increase by an average of $308, or 6.5%, during FY 09. - Loudoun.gov