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Loudoun supervisors to begin budget talks with tax rate cut

Courtesy Photo/HarveyBuilders.com
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday night to instruct County Administrator Tim Hemstreet to prepare the upcoming fiscal 2019 at the estimated equalized tax rate, $1.11 per $100 in assessed value, a drop from the current $1.125 tax rate.

The move, which was passed by the board's six Republican members, came after Hemstreet warned the board’s finance committee last week that a burgeoning schools budget, a growing population and the pressure to pay county employees higher wages were contributing to a projected budget shortfall of about $100 million for 2019.

The finance committee tried unsuccessfully to advance guidance on the tax rate. But separate proposals from the chairwoman and vice chairman failed in a party-line stalemate.


The lack of guidance from the finance committee left the full Board of Supervisors to decide on a guidance.

At the county’s current tax rate of $1.125 per $100 in assessed value, Hemstreet predicted last week there would be a budget shortfall of $94.8 million. If the board chose to lower the tax rate to an equalized rate of $1.11, he said it would create a budget shortfall of $106.9 million.

The equalized rate is that which keeps taxes level for the average Loudoun County homeowner, factoring in assessments. The 2019 budget is projected to carry with it an equalized tax rate is $1.11 per $100 of assessed value.

Several proposals were floated Thursday, but supervisors ultimately voted along party lines in favor of a proposal brought forth by Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) to begin budget deliberations at the equalized rate.

“I do not believe that we should start our budget deliberations at a tax increase. If we decide when we get to a place that we have additional needs, than we can analyze those needs at that time and make decisions at that time,” Higgins said.

Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) also floated proposals.

Randall proposed having the budget prepared at $1.13, which would have been the equalized tax rate of last year.

Meyer proposed preparing the upcoming budget at the estimated equalized real property tax rate and providing options that would reduce that tax rate to a penny below the estimated equalized tax rate.

Both proposals failed.

“I believe I'm voting my constituency and my conscience,” Randall said after offering her motion.

“I will not take three minutes to tell you that my conscience says we should live within our means,” Higgins quipped.

Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said Meyer’s and Randall’s motions went either too high or too low, and Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) called the Broad Run supervisor's proposal “political pandering” and decided to abstain from voting for it.

With the board’s latest guidance, Hemstreet will begin preparing the county’s budget and bring it forward to the board in early February. Supervisors will then begin discussions on the budget around March.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


I recall the years when the tax rate was under a $1 in Loudoun. Always east to spend other people’s money. Maybe I can claim my house/income as non profit since taxed so much.


Property Tax Rate Cuts should also include a decrease in the percentage at which property values increased.

A rate decline from $1.125 to $1.11 is only a -1.33% tax cut. Yet property has increased AT LEAST 5% since last year, so home owners are still paying more in taxes.

5.00% increase on a $500k home:
——-
2017: $500,000 / 100 * 1.125 = $5625/taxes
2018: $525,000 / 100 * 1.110 = $5827.5/taxes

The county must think homeowners can’t do math.


I want to say wake me up when it is back under a dollar but that would just be a glib chit chat remark which I normally reject especially when the issue here is far more severe. Why not openly compare our tax rate to the AVERAGE in Virginia especially the counties that claim they need MORE of the sales tax revenues than they warrant to somehow justify TAKING well over $200 million out of Loudoun’s share (the composite index) every year. Basically local taxpayers in Loudoun are paying more to support LCPS BECAUSE the state takes away funding collected precisely to support schools and gives it to southwestern counties who have LOWER property tax rates than we do! On top of that it is also the state that pushes for greater residential density in Loudoun so they get more income taxes. This also puts upward pressure on the property tax rate yet it rarely gets into the public debate. YES - it is about the children but in this case its about the children who dress up like adults in our legislature openly prepared to “TAKE” funding from Loudoun and Fairfax. Yes I believe after serving 8 years on the school board it still remains an unresolved issue which none of our elected legislators seem willing to take on.
Bob Ohneiser Esq.

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