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Loudoun County supervisors facing an ugly budget picture for fiscal 2018

Loudoun County supervisors on Tuesday agreed to direct County Administrator Tim Hemstreet to prepare the county's proposed fiscal 2018 budget at the estimated equalized real property tax rate of $1.155 per $100 in assessed value, one cent up from the current tax rate.

The guidance to Hemstreet came during the final fiscal discussion before county staff begins producing the county budget that will go into effect July 1.

Supervisors’ request includes directing Hemstreet to provide options that could reduce the tax rate to the current real property tax rate.

The equalized tax rate is that which will not raise taxes for the average county homeowner.

Director of the Department of Management and Budget Erin McLellan told supervisors that since the preliminary budget guidance update to the board in October, the real property estimates from the commissioner of the revenue had changed substantially because of a revaluation of the county portfolio.

According to the county, the latest estimates from the commissioner of the revenue show that revaluation was close to negative 1 percent. McLellan warned the current numbers pointed to a “sizable shortfall.”

“Because of the revaluation projection that is coming out of core, which is based on about a 90 percent completion rate of the assessments … the equalized rate would actually be higher than the current rate by the penny,” McLellan said. “So we’re looking at an equalized rate of a $1.155.”

The management and budget director explained that, at the current rate for Loudoun County Public Schools, new revenue would be about $53 million, leaving a shortfall of roughly $22 million. At the estimated equalized rate, new revenue would be about $58 million, leaving a shortfall of $17 million.

Ahead of the vote on the estimated equalized tax rate of $1.155, some supervisors argued the amount was too high, while others thought it was only just enough.

“I think it’s always fiscally more responsible to try to start with the lowest baseline and then look at increases,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said. Meyer's motion to direct the county administrator to prepare the fiscal 2018 budget at the current real property tax rate of $1.145 failed for lack of a second.

Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) argued that a rate of $1.155 was still not enough to meet the needs of the various county departments.

“I don't know how I can look at county employees, let alone county citizens, and do anything less than $1.155 because I think that’s the right number, especially having sat through the finance committee meetings,” Randall said.

Vice Chair Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), who has worked now on six county budgets, said starting with a $1.145 rate or lower would only be “digging yourself a deeper hole to start with in the budget process.”

Supervisors voted 7-1-1, with Meyer opposed and Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) absent, to send Hemstreet the $1.155 rate.

Comments


60 million in infrastructure needed to house FDK. Add instructors yearly makes it at least additional 100 million dollars over ten years. Our students already excel. There are no credible stats that show a student benefits from FDK. Professional babysitting at taxpayer expense to increase the School System Kingdom. Offer pay for play like Seattle does for kids who aren’t ESL or special ed. You have no benefit, you spend no taxpayer money just that simple


Spending cause you can, doesn’t mean you are a self-described “fiscal conservative” - a reason why some may have elected Higgins—-  just saying.  Many fiscal conservatives don’t appreciate pork spending no matter where the money is spent. 

“I am a fiscal conservative and my record as your Catoctin representative on both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board is consistent and clear; I have fought against and reduced unnecessary spending in the budget and have lowered the tax rate. I remain committed to reining in the growth of taxes, spending and unnecessary debt.”


@oranges869. Curious to see the data behind your claim that kids don’t benefit from Full Day Kindergarten. Also curious to understand how 62 FDK students in the entire county amounts to much more than a very small drip in a very large bucket.

LCPS has over 78,000 students. 62 children win a lottery to attend FDK. Yeah, THAT’s the straw.

@Another Concerned Citizen. The nerve of Supervisor Higgins, looking out for his constituents! It’s almost like we elected him to do exactly that. [eye roll emoji].


actually pro growth is suppose to increase the tax base and raise revenues. It seems the County Government is too thirsty for the citizens money. Elect people who will budget within the county’s means!!


tee up the usual whining and sniveling about the school budget being underfunded by those mean Republicans. Yawn.


How about this headline, “Taxpayers facing higher rates”
Attention Honorable Randall, the county government is not a jobs program.  Do more with less, and be a leader. Orange869 nailed it.


How about just sending the bill to every developer who overpromised commercial and wheedled a bunch of extra residential housing?  OK, can’t do that, then how about mandating that promised commercial space is built and leased before allowing construction to begin on any residential component bringing more kids to the schools and putting more strain on county services?  OK, can’t do that, then how about instituting a zero-based-review of the LCPS budget that assumes nothing, and forces each department and school to justify each dollar requested?

OK, can’t do that, then how about electing a new BoS and School Baord…we CAN do that.


Did someone mention pork?

The Higgins “Quick Update” email includes:

...I offered an amendment that was supported by my colleagues to allocate any additional Fiscal Year 2016 funding surplus to fund all four remaining turf fields with priority going to the oldest school that does not yet have turf, which is Heritage High School.  The remaining schools without turf including Dominion, Briar Woods, and Freedom High Schools would also be included in this funding source.

...In another win for Western Loudoun I was able to secure additional funding in the amount of $5.0 million for Lovettsville Park.

...I was also able to include an additional $2.3 million for the Scott Jenkins Memorial Park in Hamilton.

Don’t forget the $82,000 (+/-) for the Waterford traffic calming study (same story as the last traffic study) and the $150,000 to help the Waterford Foundation, with over $6,000,000 in assets, “repair their finances”.

 


perhaps stop building so many town houses which on my street contain easily 3 school aged children if not more.  This will solve a big majority of the problem. paying $5,100 real estate taxes per year on a TH is sickening.


How many times is the Board going to play this game?  LCPS doesn’t need more, they WANT more and they squirrel away millions EVERY YEAR.  Couple that with LCPS’s lack of transparency with just about everyone and we have one more year where we should tell LCPS to deal with it.  They shouldn’t get an increase greater than the student population growth and, frankly, they shouldn’t get one at all given how much they fritter away on non-essential items.

That being said, stop building houses and making the budget problems worse.


Hey I just want to mention that the minor OATMEAL CRISIS of 2017 in my house has been resolved.


Quit spending money on full day kindergarten for children who don’t benefit from it. Special ed and ESL students are a;; the kids that should be in FDK. Offer a pay for play if you want your child in FDK.


I actually agree with Meyers on this for multiple reasons:

1. We have supervisors asking why does LCPS have a $20M surplus at the end of each year even though their budget was supposedly “underfunded”.  This is because LCPS knowingly exaggerates its budget so funds will be left over for goodies which lack political support.

2. Even though the FY17 budget being carried over by LCPS has $15-20M of surplus, LCPS is asking for another $10-15M of extra funding in FY18 that is completely unnecessary.  Taken together, there is $25-30M that can be cut from LCPS’ FY18 request alone!  This includes more exaggerated step increase costs (not the step increase itself but the additional estimated funds needed to cover it is too high), extra raises to the school board members’ spouses (the steps of these spouses), a slush account to hand out administrator raises, and phony “new school” costs.

3. Psychologically, it’s more efficient to justify every penny the gov’t spends than to try to appease some special interest whose pet project is “cut”.  Why not defend every dollar every single year?

I don’t think there is fat in the county budget side.  But there is a whole lotta lard on the LCPS side.

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