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Leesburg tax rate expected to remain steady for 2019

The Town of Leesburg tax rate is expected to remain the same for fiscal 2019, according to a budget preview given during Monday night’s council work session. However, Town Manager Kaj Dentler says that council may need to discuss raising rates in future years.

“We have to look at what’s coming at us,” Dentler said. “The town is continuing to grow.”

The current Leesburg tax rate is 18.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. Additionally, Leesburg residents pay a county property tax rate, which is currently $1.125 per $100.

Leesburg is expected to grow to 60,000 residents by 2021 at a steady growth rate of 3 percent each year. While these residents will increase the tax base, Leesburg will also have to provide additional services, expand roads and pay off the debt service, expected to increase within the next five years.

“Taxes must at least remain stable for 2019-2024,” Dentler said, adding that Leesburg must transition from a financial “recession mode” to a “growth management mode.”

Some of next year’s Capital Improvement Project funds are expected to go toward an expansion of the police station, repairing the storm drains on Liberty Street and—in response to the Economic Development Steering Commission report—adding streetlights along the walkway to the Liberty Street Lot.

Council members responded cautiously, asking Dentler for more details about potential budget cuts for future reports.

Councilman Ron Campbell expressed concern over the “double-taxing” of Leesburg residents, asking if staff could look into the issue: “We can’t say the tax rate is 18.4 when the people are double-taxed.”

Campbell also expressed interest in at least discussing the need for a higher rate in the future.

On Tuesday night, council will vote on moving forward with certain recommendations of the Economic Development Steering Committee. While the town is already working on the majority of the recommendations, council recommended that staff get started on a few of the longer-term goals, includinig investigating public-private partnerships to create more parking, developing an improvement grant for downtown buildings, revising the zoning ordinance and joining a work session with Loudoun County to discuss creating more affordable dwelling units.

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