Leesburg budget presented at Town Council
Town Manager John Wells presented the budget Feb. 25 at the Leesburg Town Council meeting.
The presentation was relatively tame, as this year's budget is the second year of a two-year budget.
"It reflects the continuation of the long-range strategic plan you've adopted," Wells told the Town Council.
For FY15, the proposed general fund boasts $49.1 million dollars, a 2.7 percent increase, in the general rate. The proposed tax rate has actually decreased from 19.2 cents to 18.3 cents, which would keep a balanced budget.
There are no new positions, with the exception of two police officers that were approved last year. The Capital Projects are maintained and a 3 percent merit-based pay increase is implemented for town employees. Additionally, $10,000 is being allocated for Ida Lee movie nights, also requested by the Town Council last year.
The Utility Fund is at $20.1 million and includes a 3 percent water and sewer increase, set to begin in July.
Kaj Dentler, who will take over as town manager following Wells's Oct. 3 retirement, presented some of the completed capital improvements while looking forward at those yet to come. Completed projects include the early phases of Sycolin Road improvements, downtown improvements and South King Street improvements, all projects whose later phases are forthcoming.
Additionally, Dentler told the council to be prepared for what's looming on the horizon: possible utility rate changes after a town-wide study; potential stormwater funding; the loss of gas tax revenue; new NVTA funding; and potential implications of the Affordable Care Act.
The Town Council also hopes to involve the community in the budget process and has set up a website to enable residents to submit budget questions.
All resident can submit questions online at leesburgva.gov/askbudget. and will receive individual responses. Questions and answers may also be placed on the town website and Facebook page.
“A budget is more than just a book of numbers,” Wells said at the Tuesday meeting. “It represents a method of communication with our residents and taxpayers and provides a method of transparency as to how their tax dollars are being used.”
The first public hearing will be held at the March 11 Town Council meeting with a second hearing occurring April 7. The Town Council will vote on whether to adopt the budget April 8.
At the Feb. 26 meeting, the Town Council also considered a measure to eliminate pro-rated property tax.
Proposed by Finance Director Norm Butts, the proposal would assess all property on Jan. 5, with taxes due May 5 rather than Oct. 5. Items purchased after Jan. 1 wouldn't be taxed until the following year, as opposed to being taxed at a pro-rated fee.
Previously, property sold that had already been taxed that was later sold was eligible for a rebate; in a similar move, this proposal eliminates that refund.
The council will hosting a public hearing on the measure at the May 25 meeting.