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County administrator to introduce fiscal 2014 budget Wednesday

Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet will propose his fiscal 2014 budget to the Board of Supervisors Wednesday night, an essential starting point for two months of debate and worksessions on the county's billion-dollar spending plan.

Fiscal 2014 runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

For fiscal 2013's $1.75 billion budget, the supervisors adopted a tax rate of $1.235 per $100 in assessed home value. That rate was expected to drop the average homeowner’s property tax bill by approximately $200, based on the then-average home value of $401,710, according to county documents.

In fiscal 2012, the tax rate was $1.285.

With Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick’s proposed $870 million budget for the upcoming year, there remains a roughly $20 million gap between what the schools want and what the supervisors are likely to have available.

Earlier this year Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chair of the finance committee, favored starting out the budget direction with an equalized rate, one that will keep the average homeowner's tax bill level. County finance staff estimate an equalized tax rate to be around $1.23 per $100 in assessed value.

“What we’ve essentially done is not over-handcuff ourselves as a board. We’re giving ourselves the latitude to make trade-offs between schools, transportation, public safety and so forth,” Buona said Jan. 8.

Nixed during last year's budget talks, among other programs, were the county's youth drug court, automatic raises for county employees and a county horticulturist, a position responsible for overseeing the county's master gardeners.

Five years of Loudoun property taxes:

County real property tax rate per $100 assessed value

2012 - $1.235
2011 - $1.285
2010 - $1.300
2009 - $1.245
2008 - $1.140

Source: Loudoun County Public Information Office

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How about this? If your house is more than 2,000 square feet, then your rate will be $1.40. If your house is less than 2,000 square feet, your rate will be $1.08 and if you rent,  Loudoun County will send you a check to help pay for your new iPhone.  Loudoun County will get to continue to   claim the distinction of having the highest property tax in the Commonwealth (i.e. we will more “progressive” than the rest of the Commonwealth) and “those millionaires and billionaires” who can afford to, will have pay a little bit more. 
This argument worked for President Obama and his pals, why can’t we try it here in LoCo?  After all, Obama won the vote here. If it’s such a good idea, let’s keep it rolling.  (I believe the term is “go for the throat” according to CBS’s political director John Dickerson)
If the millionaires and billionaires just paid their fair share, we could give raises to all the School System employees because they work really hard for 9 months a year.

Does anyone else not see an issue with the county continually increasing the school system’s budget without increasing other important services? Why is transportation or even more importantly public safety not being increased? While I cannot complain about the lower proposed tax rate I, the tax payer, expect the elected officals to make LOGICAL decisions about how to spend our money. Logic states that fixing the traffic or providing more safety is more important that having our children learn from Ipads instead of books.

$1.075 in Fairfax County in FY 2013.

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