Loudoun County administrator’s budget proposal leaves nearly $40M gap for school funding
Mr. Hemstreet's nearly $2 billion budget submission leaves a funding gap of approximately $35-$40 million from LCPS Superintendent Dr. Edgar Hatrick's budget proposal, according to Dr. Hatrick, who was in attendance for the opening of Wednesday night's meeting.
The Loudoun County School Board has yet to officially adopt its budget, but is scheduled to do so Wednesday night. It's unclear whether the School Board will fully grant Dr. Hatrick's budget request. Regardless, a substantial funding shortfall between the county administrator's proposal and the School Board's soon-to-be-adopted budget is expected.
Mr. Hemstreet's proposed budget carries an “equalized tax rate” of $1.155 per $100 in assessed property value. An equalized rate is that which leaves the average homeowner's property tax bill level. For the current fiscal year, which runs through June, the tax rate was 1.205 per $100.
Because of increased revenues and property values over the past year, the local transfer to the county's schools would increase by more than $45 million within Mr. Hemstreet's budget.
Dr. Hatrick believes a roughly $100 million allocation increase from the county is necessary to fund what he has said are critical technology improvements, facility upgrades and increased pay for teachers.
According to the county's public information office, Mr. Hemstreet's proposed fiscal 15 fiscal plan follows the supervisors' guidance and continues to include two cents within the advertised real property tax rate to fund high priority transportation infrastructure projects.
“I believe the plan I am presenting today reflects the board’s commitment to providing quality services through open, accountable, efficient and responsive government,” Mr. Hemstreet said.
Loudoun's economic standing remains vibrant, the county administrator noted. Real property values increase more than 8 percent from January 2013 to January 2014, and the county's unemployment rate or 2013 averaged 4 percent through November, well below the nearly 7.4 percent national average.
Concerning capital projects, Mr. Hemstreet's budget includes nearly $320 million for the fiscal 2015 capital improvement program – roughly $200 million for general government projects and $120 million for public schools.
“The largest expenditure category is transportation infrastructure at $126.5 million, which includes $40 million for Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit; $80.3 million for roads; and $6.2 million for transit buses and facilities,” according to a county-provided overview of the proposed budget. “Of the $121 million in school projects, $35 million is for the development of Dulles North Elementary School, 53.5 million for the development of Dulles North Middle School, $6 million in design funding for the Advanced Technology Academy, and $26.5 million for the renovation of Broad Run High School.”
This story has been updated from an earlier version.