Loudoun County administrator proposes $2.5B budget that would keep taxes level
The equalized rate is the figure that keeps taxes level for the average homeowner.
Within Hemstreet's proposed budget, the total transfer of county funds to Loudoun County Schools would come just $3.5 million shy of the school system's adopted budget for the coming fiscal year. The LCPS allocation is up $61 million year-over-year.
The proposed spending plan also includes funds for the county’s employee merit pay program and includes resources for about 189 new full-time equivalent positions in various departments, including those necessary to open new county facilities such as the Dulles South Multipurpose Center, Kirkpatrick Farms Fire Rescue Station, the Brambleton Library and the Ashburn’s Sheriff Station.
While 2018 “presents a better economic picture than the previous year,” Hemstreet said resources remain constrained. He noted that the county’s population continues to increase, which brings an increased demand for services.
The county administrator said the proposed budget was developed in a better economic environment than that of fiscal 2017, due to improved external economic factors and revenues. Loudoun property values continue to increase; the average assessed value of a single family home in 2017 is $454,700, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2016. There has also been significant growth in personal property.
In the proposed 2018 budget, Hemstreet replaced the local gasoline tax that had supported Loudoun County Transit operations with local tax funding. This replacement, according to county officials, will allow Loudoun County transit operations to be funded in the base budget in fiscal 2019. The aim is to have the county's general fund better prepared its upcoming financial obligation for Metrorail in fiscal 2019 because local gasoline tax will be diverted from county operations to help pay for Metrorail.
The amended fiscal 2017–2022 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) totals $2.012 billion for the six-year planning period. The category with the largest expenditure percentage is transportation projects at 39 percent, or $789 million, followed by school projects at 32 percent, or $631 million.
The proposed CIP accelerates the opening date of a new high school in the Dulles South area by one year to the fall of 2020. The proposed CIP also maintains funding for high priority general government projects.
Hemstreet has advertised a real property tax rate of $1.140 to provide the board with options to fund the Loudoun County Public Schools’ budget request and to fund additional county budget requests.
The proposed budget is balanced at the equalized tax rate of $1.135, which is 1 cent lower than the current tax rate.
The personal property tax rate of $4.20 would remain unchanged under the proposed budget.
The Board of Supervisors will determine the final real property tax rate and related budget policy decisions during March budget work sessions with adoption of the fiscal 2018 budget expected on April 4.
The board will hold three public hearings on the proposed FY 2018 budget. The hearings are scheduled for: Feb. 28 at 6 p.m., Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, S.E., Leesburg; March 2 at 3 p.m., Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center; and March 4, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, 21000 Education Court, Ashburn
Anyone who wishes to speak at the public hearings may sign up in advance for one speaking slot beginning Feb. 16 by calling 703-777-0204.
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