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Leesburg tax rate to remain flat in town manager’s proposed budget

Leesburg’s tax rate is proposed to remain the same for fiscal 2019 at 18.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to a budget presentation by Town Manager Kaj Dentler on Tuesday night.

Dentler’s message was one of preparing for growth, and the tax plan reflects this: It calls for refurbishment of older buildings and several new jobs to ease strains on staff. Dentler also predicted that council will need to raise taxes in future years.

“We are a growing community, and we also have a little bit of a challenge: We are an aging community,” Dentler said.

The $125.7 million budget includes a $58.99 million general fund, a $42 million capital fund and a $27 million utilities fund. The general fund is increasing 3.3 percent from last year’s budget of $57 million.

The weighted average increase in citizens’ tax bill is predicted to be $33.40 a year, or about $2.78 each month.

Leesburg expects to get 200 more dwelling units this year, with 1,900 more in the pipeline. In five years, Dentler said, Leesburg can expect to be at 95 percent buildout. These potential new residents will increase the town’s tax base, but they also will require additional services.

At the same time, many town buildings date to circa 1990 and need updates. For instance, the Town Shop and Police Department Headquarters will need to be renovated within the next few years.

Several new construction projects will also be happening next fiscal year, Dentler said. The widening of Evergreen Mill Road and Sycolin Road will wrap up, as well as beginning the Battlefield Parkway and Route 7 interchange and building hangars at the north end of the airport. The drainage system at Liberty Street, a $20,000 project, is also scheduled for fiscal 2019.

After eliminating 35 positions in 2011 and 2012, Dentler said a portion of the budget should go toward hiring. He recommended hiring a help desk employee to manage basic IT requests, two assistants to ease the workload of town planning engineers, a business systems integrator and two water pollution control operators.

Dentler also recommended replacing mercury vapor streetlights with LEDs; restoring full funding of $95,000 to Visit Loudoun after council’s reduction last year; $20,000 for a potential lease of the remote tower at Leesburg Executive Airport; and getting software and a consultant for increased cybersecurity, a much cheaper option than hiring a full-time cybersecurity specialist.

Dentler warned council against adopting an equalized tax rate of 17.6 cents or dropping the tax rate in any way. While Loudoun County dropped its taxes to an equalized rate in part due to the booming data center market, Leesburg currently has no such revenue.

“If we drop the tax rate, we’re going to have a significant shortfall in just covering our baseline costs,” he said. “The town and the county are apples and oranges, and the equalized tax rate allows us to bleed to death very slowly.”

The proposed Loudoun County fiscal 2019 tax rate is $1.09 per $100 of assessed value, making Leesburg citizens potentially pay a combined rate of $1.274 per $100.

Council members’ initial response reflected varying views about the budget. Councilman Ron Campbell seemed to support discussing a raise in taxes, while Councilman Tom Dunn stressed holding the county accountable for providing Leesburg with services.

“The reality is that the budget…is not keeping pace with the growth in the town,” Campbell said. “At some point, it’s going to hit that we’ll have to have either an extremely large increase or extreme cut.”

Citizens can view the budget at http://www.leesburgva.gov/budget and ask questions via the site’s OpenGov platform. The first budget public hearing will be held on March 13 during the council meeting.


Hey David, not sure why the link to the budget was not working for you but I am happy to clink the link on your behalf.  The proposed budge is just under $59 million, a 3.3% increase.  Let me know if I can help you.  At the same time, since you live in Sterling, please let us know what about the Leesburg budget concerns you.

It would be good if the total budget figure was included.  What is the total this year in millions and what is being requested by Dentler?

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