The recent editorial published by the Loudoun Times-Mirror on Feb. 26, 2014, presents a false choice between the Loudoun County Public Schools budget and the Silver Line extension. It also indicates a significant lack of understanding on the part of the editors on the way municipal governments operate.
First, and perhaps most important, the editorial fails to recognize the distinction between operating and capital expenditures. As any other jurisdiction in Virginia, Loudoun County is required to have essentially two budgets - an operating budget and a capital budget. Funding for Metro - regardless of the source - comes from the capital budget. The LCPS budget in question is the operating budget. The Board of Supervisors has repeatedly shown its commitment to funding LCPS capital projects, including this year’s proposed budget, which essentially fully funds the School Board’s six-year, $651 million capital request.
If we consider the amount of funding the Board will provide to education in Fiscal Year 2015, for both operating and capital expenditures, it will easily surpass $1 billion. The Proposed Fiscal Plan includes over $910 million in operating funds and over $110 million in capital funds. Taken together, just one year’s appropriation for LCPS is more than four times the capital cost of Metrorail. Financing Metro has zero effect on the school operating budget.
There is no relationship between the two: it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.
The editorial also seems to assume that the Board of Supervisors has conducted no planning or long-range strategy for Metrorail and the areas immediately surrounding it. While we understand that LTM is now under new editorial leadership, it is nevertheless rather irresponsible to completely ignore a process which spanned over two decades and five boards of supervisors as well as extensive community input leading up to the board’s decision in 2012 to finalize our involvement in the Silver Line extension.
Once the decision to remain in the project was made, our goal became finding the most cost-effective means to pay for it. A simple review of your own paper’s past reporting - including at least 10 articles since June of 2012 - would clearly demonstrate the board’s concerted effort in limiting the impact on Loudoun taxpayers. This is exhibited by a couple of the board’s key initiatives:
1. Metrorail Tax District: The capital costs of the Metrorail extension are borne primarily by commercial developers and landowners in the vicinity of the project who benefit most directly from Metrorail. As growth occurs and values increase, revenues in the district also increase. Above all, these taxes do not take away from any other revenues in the county coffers. This special tax district is already in place, already collecting revenue, and meeting projections.
2. TIFIA Financing: The Board deliberated for months over possible financing mechanisms for the capital costs of Metrorail. Thanks to the hard work of federal, state and local leaders, the U.S. Department of Transportation invited the Phase 2 Metrorail partners to submit an application for a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovative Act (TIFIA) loan. This provides significant and tangible cost savings to Loudoun County. Principal payments do not begin until five years after completion of the project, allowing additional funds to accrue in the Tax District and lowering the amount of actual debt that must be incurred. Moreover, the length of payoff for the TIFIA loan is up to 25 years, reducing annual debt service payments.
Not only will TIFIA financing reduce Loudoun County’s capital costs, it also reduces MWAA’s capital costs, meaning tolls on the Dulles Toll Road do not need to rise as much to pay for Metrorail. The funding partners for Phase 2 of Dulles Metrorail estimate that the TIFIA loan - if awarded - could save the project over $1 billion in costs. So yes, TIFIA financing really is great news for our taxpayers and commuters.
The Board of Supervisors does have a plan - both for Loudoun County and for Metrorail. We’ve approved or initiated numerous zoning changes, comprehensive plan changes, transportation changes and road construction projects to enhance the benefits of Metrorail’s extension to Routes 606 and 772. Our plan for Loudoun County encompasses high-quality education, critical transportation projects, long-term sound fiscal planning and strategic economic development initiatives. In fact, it is these economic development initiatives that will provide a sustainable source of revenue for the needs of our county, including our school system. Our results in 2013 - over 5,000 new jobs and permits for over 1.8 million square feet of new commercial projects - show that they are working and the future is bright.
Clearly, the Loudoun Times-Mirror’s editorial page is eager to participate in our budget process, as evidenced by three editorials on the school budget prior to the board’s first budget work session. We are open to and appreciate community input in our budget process from all quarters.
But we would remind the editors that we are citizen legislators. The LTM tells us to “get out of the county building and into the real world.” Well, we live in this community. Many of us deal with daily commutes to our full-time jobs just like our citizens do. Some of us have children in the public school system and are active in numerous civic and church groups.
Perhaps before urging us to “get out of the county building,” the editors themselves should consider spending some time in the county building to learn more about the fiscal management of the county, our plans for Metro and our strategic vision. We’ll be more than happy to provide a briefing. We’d also be willing to give them individual tours of our districts, which we know so well.
The board does its best to consider numerous community priorities - public safety, social services, libraries, parks and recreation, and yes, schools. There will be debate about exactly how much money should go to each one, and we certainly don’t expect the editorial page to agree with every decision. But the community does deserve at least an informed discussion, and in that regard, the LTM’s editorial badly failed.
Scott K. York, Chairman, At-Large
Shawn M. Williams, Broad Run District, Vice-Chair
Matthew F. Letourneau, Dulles District, Chairman, Economic Development Committee
Ralph M. Buona, Ashburn District, Chairman, Finance/Government Services & Operations Committee
Loudoun CountyMay the best qualified
Joe May is easily the best qualified candidate in the Jan. 21 special election for the Senate 33rd district seat soon to be vacated by Mark Herring.
May has significant experience establishing legislation to handle the issues facing our 33rd district. He has served in the VA House of Delegates since 1994, as a senior member on the Transportation, Appropriations, and Science and Technology committees. He is very familiar with the issues in our district, having lived in Chantilly, and then in Leesburg, since 1969. He has helped provide hundreds of job in our district - he founded EIT in Sterling in 1976, which employs approximately 300 people - and is currently Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer.
Joe was recently endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business for taking “a fiscally responsible approach to managing state government”, and for supporting “legislation that helps our small businesses grow and create jobs“.
May was also endorsed by the NoVa Technology Council’s Tech PAC for championing “technology policies and investments that support technology business” and “promote job creation”, and for helping achieve “passage of transportation legislation to provide new funding for transportation infrastructure and congestion relief”.
Voter turnout is critically important in special elections. So please find time in your busy schedule on Tuesday, January 21 to vote for Joe May – or you can cast an absentee ballot. The moderate middle majority needs to get out and vote - otherwise the political extremes will unacceptably determine our legislative representation.
HerndonCelebrating a community’s good deeds 50 years later
In Aug. 1959, Richard and Doris Glasscock moved into a new community in Loudoun County called Broad Run Farms with their four young children.
Broad Run Farms was in the early stages of development and all of the young families in the neighborhood bonded quickly. It was a good time with wonderful neighbors and a friendly atmosphere where everyone looked after each other.
There were so many wonderful young families – the Crosons, the Foltzs, the Waddells, the Downs, the Dukes, the Bares, the Petersons, the Briggs, the Coxs, the Parcells, the Beales, the Youngs and more.
Richard Glasscock was a journey lineman and climbed electrical poles for a living. It was a dangerous but well-paying job. Doris was a stay-at-home mother, with children ranging in age from seven years to 15 months. She herself had been injured in a car accident at the age of 16 and used a cane to walk. She did not have a driver’s license and relied on her husband for many things.
The Glasscocks did not really know how wonderful their neighbors were until after that fateful day, Oct. 16, 1959 when Richard was working at Fort Belvoir. There was a horrific accident and Richard was burned on over 50 percent of his body and most doctors at that time did not give the family much hope of survival.
When the neighbors heard of the accident, they began bringing food to house, providing transportation to the hospital and taking up a collection on a weekly basis to help the young family. Neighbors would watch the children when Doris went to the hospital.
They took Doris grocery shopping. They even arranged for Santa to pay a special visit to the children. The living room was full of presents.
Barbara Foltz, who was a nurse, found a wonderful doctor by the name of Dr. Ray Brown who made it his mission to keep Richard alive.
Brown, who had recently left the Army, fought the insurance company over and over again to make sure that he had every piece of medical equipment that he needed to treat Richard’s extensive second and third degree burns. If the insurance company did not want to pay for something, he would pay for it out of his own pocket and then bill them for it.
The Glasscock’s received $57 a week from worker’s compensation. Norman Downs would go around the neighborhood and collect over a $100 per month to pay the family’s mortgage. This continued for 18 months while Richard recovered from his burns. Eventually, he was able to go back to work.
Many of the families have moved away from this small community, but we will never forget the kindness, love and concern for each other that brought this neighborhood together.
There have been many triumphs and tragedies throughout the history of Broad Run Farms. We have lost some of our youngest and brightest young people to illness, disease and accidents. We have seen children grow up, move away and then move back into the family home. It was, and still is, a true community and a place that the residents who lived there so many years ago are proud to call home.
It has been a little over 50 years since that day, and looking back, our lives could have turned out so very differently but for the people who were our neighbors and friends who cared enough to lend a hand and donate money each month to help a family who was in need.
There are not enough words to express how grateful we are for the kindness and generosity that our neighbors showed us 50 years ago. We have not forgotten.
Richard, Doris, Bobby, Pat, Chris, Ricky and John Glasscock
Broad Run FarmsWhat next from the McDonnell image repair?
By unveiling his new $95.9 billion budget (Re: “The McDonnell legacy; governor reflects on highs and lows of term” – Dec. 27), Gov. Bob McDonnell is focusing more upon his legacy at home than on his once-bright national political future.
It was a roller-coaster year indeed. McDonnell began 2013 as a top contender in many political insiders’ lists for the 2016 Republican nomination. Then, amidst lingering allegations about alleged gifts and preferential donor treatment, McDonnell was transformed from “golden boy” to “radioactive man,” Politico’s Alexander Burns reflected in July. But McDonnell insisted all along that he’d remain governor for “another 4 1/2 months,” as he told reporters at a Fairfax County event in August.
While he seems to have weathered the storm, the final assessment of his service remains cloudy – and he knows it. With “an image to repair,” WRIC-TV News wrote recently, McDonnell told the network he’s proud of over a dozen accomplishments for Virginia – ranging from policy innovations to mental health to the economy.
Like the new budget, will we see another big announcement in his waning days in office?
New York, NYWe need Whitbeck in the Virginia Senate
With a snap election scheduled for Jan. 21 t to fill the Virginia Senate seat being vacated by Mark Herring, the political opportunists are crawling out of the woodwork. Political opportunists are precisely the kind of people we don’t need in Richmond.
Joe May, who after 20 years in the House of Delegates, lost his seat in an primary upset earlier this year and has been sulking ever since. When it looked like the 33rd Senate seat might open up, Joe May announced he would run as a Republican for the seat, even though he didn’t currently live in the district. Then, opting not to lose to another Republican party nominating contest, Joe May not only jumped ship from his long-time home, he abandoned his long-time party to run as an Independent. A tax and spend former Republican, Joe May is now in a win-win situation. Whether or not he wins, every vote for Joe May works to insure a tax and spender gets in. May’s campaign motto appears to be “If you can’t beat them, get revenge!”
Jennifer Wexton, the Democrat, admirably served the people of Virginia, putting criminals behind bars as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, until her failed attempt to become Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County. Wexton then decided she could make more money keeping criminals out of jail, as a defense attorney, than putting them in jail or working civil law. Like Joe May, she too decided to hastily pack up and move into the 33rd Senate District to run. Wexton, like May, supports more “investments” (read more tax and spend policies) to improve our economy. If that theory worked, the Obama economic policies of the past five years would have us in a booming economy today. It doesn’t. She also wants to expand ObamaCare deeper into Virginia’s economy and budget than it is now! Additionally damaging to our economy is Wexton’s ties to unions and hostility to Virginia’s Right to Work laws.
John Whitbeck, the Republican candidate, will be a breath of fresh air for the 33rd Senate District. John will defend our rights: economic rights, property rights, 2nd Amendment rights, parental rights, and the right to life. And yes, John will also protect women’s right to purchase contraceptives. Though the Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, insures that there is no credible threat to contraceptives and Wexton knows it, she will deceitfully claim otherwise in her attack ads. Whitbeck will work to eliminate unnecessary, bureaucratic regulations that stifle our economy while insuring that the people – employees, retirees, consumers, investors,—and the environment are protected from the unscrupulous acts of others. John Whitbeck is the principled candidate, not a political opportunist. We need John in the Virginia Senate.
SterlingSupport for Joe May in Special Election Vote for the independent Going meatless in the New Year No First Night for Leesburg? Bipartisan solutions from May Stop putting down Virginia colleges May has the right experience Look at all the stats on schools More money doesn’t always equal better schools Supporting Joe May
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