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Modest tax hike? It’s possible, say supervisors

Loudoun County supervisors are leaving the door open for a slight tax increase to fund Loudoun County Public Schools' adopted budget.

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet submitted a nearly $2 billion fiscal 2015 budget to the Board of Supervisors Feb. 5, the same night the School Board approved a $949 million budget for the coming year. Under Mr. Hemstreet's proposal, which would keep property taxes steady, there's a nearly $40 million shortfall in the county's allocation to the schools.

“I don't know yet. I really don't,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) when asked if he'll be willing to budge on taxes. “I don't go in with a completely preconceived notion of what the tax rate should be.”

Mr. Letourneau's colleague, Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chairman of the board's finance committee, noted he's “not drawing any lines in the sand on the budget.”

“We'll have to look at $1.155 (the proposed equalized tax rate) and see what it funds and what it doesn't fund,” Mr. Buona said.

One concern Mr. Buona said he has with the schools' proposal is there's no way for the Board of Supervisors to examine priorities within the LCPS budget.

“I was disappointed because they haven't given us much to work with. I really don't want to be shooting in the dark at targets,” he said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) said, with the exception of a couple of supervisors, he believes most of his board members will be willing to considering the LCPS proposed enhancements.

“I think most board members are open to understanding fully where the School Board is,・Mr. York said.

Like the finance chairman, Mr. York said he hopes School Board members will clearly lay out what budget items get cut and what stay in under different funding scenarios.

A Feb. 18 meeting between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board is expected to detail the schools' budget requests.

Because of increased revenues and property values over the past year, the county's local transfer to the schools would increase by more than $45 million within Mr. Hemstreet's budget. Factoring in additional revenue from the state, the schools will get an increase of more than $60 million from last year just at the equalized rate, Mr. York said.

In the past two budget cycles, the LCPS budget has increased from nearly $746 million to $843.5 million. The local fund transfer from the county has spiked from $494 million to more than $553.5 million, a 12 percent increase, according to Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-At Large).

Mr. Hemstreet's proposed fiscal 2015 fiscal plan follows the supervisors' guidance to hold taxes level for the average homeowner and it continues to include two cents within the advertised real property tax rate to fund high priority transportation infrastructure projects.

Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) made the most transparent indication that he'd be open to a slight tax bump during the Feb. 5 business meeting.

“Forty-two million dollars, my friends, is quite a lot to cut,” Mr. Reid said of the schools' budget at an equalized county rate. “ … This may be politically unpopular and everything, but I don't know if I can support an equalized rate. I'm not going to support a full rate … but I'm certainly willing to go a little bit higher, and I hope my colleagues will consider that.”

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@Gunther, I’ve been here 25 years and seen the poor planning first hand by both the BOS and School Boards, past and present. I agree, teachers should get a raise, but what about police? fire? other county workers? All I’m saying, let’s cut out those small schools from the budget, build bigger HS, no more smart boards in every classroom, outsource, cut back on the chiefs, cut dean positions at MS, better use of transportation, combine LCPS planning group(Sam has done a horrible job) with Loudoun County govt.

“Forty-two million dollars, my friends, is quite a lot to cut,”

Or you could say forty-two million dollars is quite a large budget increase!  The budget is not being cut.  In fact, it would increase by more than $60 million at the equalized tax rate, which is more than enough to cover growth and inflation.  Why does the School Board need $42 million on top of that?

My…my.  So many whiners on this thread. If you don’t want to pay your share, move out of the county. No one is ever happy paying taxes, but if someone deserves a raise IT’S DEFINTELY THE TEACHERS!  The comments about the BOS being Republican, etc are pathetic. I am a conservative, but I also believe that teachers are severely underpaid. I have two who graduated from LCPS and went on to graduate from college. I also have two more at Champe. The dedication from every teacher I have come across these last 21 years is breathtaking. Completely selfless and all about our children. If I have to pay another $1000 or whatever it is, the money will be well spent!

And the beat goes on!  This is not about whether one can argue that one would pay pennies per month, or big bucks per month.  This is about a 9-0 republican board of supervisors who is now trying to dump their tea-bagger friends, who brought them to the dance, and an effort to get re-elected.  Well, the only question in my mind is whether the real event will be the nomination fights, or the general election.  Having fun all the way!

Mine went up 40K. So either way it’s an increase. How about capping the property tax for LCPS and adding in a fee for per kid, say $2K/year. It doesn’t help they keep building small HS and allows small schools to stay open. Easy to find cuts here and there that add up to millions. BOS past and current have failed Loudoun county.

We have the number 3 school system in the USA that makes me believe that some Franks around here have problems with numbers. Even with the influx it looks really good around here. Isn’t 31 million dollars of this shortfall of 41 million for salary increases which will improve teaching our children how?

This is what happens when you approve a zillion new homes and suddenly all those new residents start pumping out 2.5 kids per household into LCPS at a cost of $20,000/yr a kid. Those costs start adding up quick.

Oh the Humanity!!!

This should be called the “Approve Approve Approve Tax Hike” because the only reason this is happening is because the board cant say no to developers and now the schools cant handle the flood of kids.

Our property value went up 52k. That’s a increase on the low rate of 520 X 115.5 equals 600 dollars. Not 520 X .06!

I received my assessment at it went up 16K from the prior year. I did a quick math calculation and if the rate stays the same (1.205% I think) my bill goes up about $200 per year. If they go to the “proposed rate” of 1.155 % my bill would be basically flat. 

What is going on here? I thought we voted for an all republican board to not raise taxes ? I have seen nothing but increases year over year.

For some households I understand it is not an issue to come up with the tax monies. But a prime example is we have people on our street that make 200K per year and others that make less than 100K per year. I know this b/c I know my neighbors well and talk to them. However, we all pay the same (approx) dollar amount of real estate tax per year as it is a townhouse community all the same type of homes.

There should be some kind of “formula” that factors in people’s income. For example, if a house is assessed at 350K and tax due is $4,200 then that should be the max amount for the “top earner ” to pay. However, if your income is below let’s say 100K then it starts to phase out, and if it is below 70K you owe no tax at all. Again, just an example but this would be a great solution to those that make less monies.

Our income tax system (Federal and VA for example) is based of a progressive tax system (i.e. more money you make more taxes you pay), so we should consider this and bring it up at the next BOS meeting.

Seriously? 50000/100 = 500 x .06$ (difference between 1.15 per hundred and 1.21 per hundred. That equals 30.00$ per year. That’s 2.50$ a month. That’s less than a nickel a day. You don’t get something for nothing. Not to mention you’ve gained more than 50000 in equity because the government assessments are always less than market increases.

My, My, My, don’t we all feeeeeeeeeeeeel the pain of the 9-0 republican board of supervisors.  They saw then Delegate Joe May suffer for his votes in Richmond, and another Eastern Loudoun Delegate Greason write a letter to the editor that looks to me like he sees the writing on the wall as well, which is don’t cross the tea-bagger faction of the republican party, or pay the price.  Soooooooooooooo, what are our poor 9-0 republican board of supervisors to do?  This will be a LOT of FUN!

The proposed tax hike would not be “modest,” as the headline suggests.Our assessment went up nearly $50,000 in one year. So at least for us, the overall increase will hardly be nickles and dimes.

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