At its April 8 meeting, the Leesburg Town Council adopted its FY15 budget with an equalized real estate tax rate of 18.3 cents, down from last year's rate of 19.2 cents.
The FY15 budget also includes a general fund of $49 million and overall budget of nearly $85 million and also a Capital Improvement Projects of $93.6 million through 2019. No new staff is hired under the new budget and the CIP includes only one major capital project, which is drainage improvement in the Brown's Meadow/Woodberry area that will cost $250,000.
Because of rising property assessment, the 18.3 cent rate is expected to maintain the tax level for property owners and the town revenue.
“The budget for FY 2015 is the second half of the two-year budget we adopted last year,” Mayor Kristen Umstattd said in a released statement. “The fact that the adopted budget has so few changes from the provisional budget presented one year ago is a testament to the clear direction that Council has set with regard to long-term budget sustainability and tax affordability, and to the leadership at the staff level to implement the Council’s direction.”
The rate passed 5-2, with councilman Tom Dunn and vice-mayor Dave Butler opposed.
"I still believe there are areas where we can be cutting costs," Dunn said.
While Dunn supported a lower tax rate, Butler actually advocated for a higher rate of 18.9
Council members Kelly Burke and Marty Martinez echoed Butler's sentiments despite voting in favor, with Martinez describing his vote as done with “reservation.”
“I see staff as really stretched. I'm worried that further down the line we're going have a need to hire more people,” Burke said. “I have a feeling we're going to take a hard look at it in years to come.”
The $49,138,272 general fund budget was approved 6-1 with Dunn the lone opponent. The fund is a 2.7 increase from last year, with most of the costs coming from rises in employee costs and health insurance, though $10,000 will also go to an outdoor movie night at Ida Lee Park.
The total budget comes in at $84,717,178, with a $20,145,019 utilities fund and a Capital Assessment Replacement Fund of $1,492,739.
The CIP fund ultimately totals $93,590,234.