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Supervisors consider deeper tax cuts for Loudoun residents

If estimates hold steady, Loudoun County could be facing a 3.5 cent real property tax cut for fiscal 2019, according to latest figures from the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office.

County staff previously anticipated real property appreciation to be under 1 percent. But, the latest data shows the real property portfolio appreciated approximately 3 percent, reducing the estimated equalized tax rate to $1.09 per $100 of assessed value. The current real property tax rate is $1.125.

Still, supervisors on Wednesday weren’t taking any chances. The board voted 5-2-2 to instruct County Administrator Tim Hemstreet to prepare a budget presentation for February with two scenarios – one showing a 1 cent increase over the new estimated equalized tax rate and another with a 1 cent decrease.

Each penny on the tax rate is expected to bring in $82 million in revenue for the county next year.

“What the motion does, on the county side … it gives us essentially what’s the administrator’s hit list or cut list,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles).

Letourneau, Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) and supervisors Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) voted in favor of the new presentation.

“It’s easier to add things in than to take things out,” said Higgins.

County staff said the newest estimates are unlikely to change because the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office is about 90 percent finished with its real property assessment.

The newest scenarios would leave a $44 million general fund shortfall and a maximum $38.8 million gap in public school funding.

On Nov. 14, Loudoun County Public Schools staff reported an anticipated $106.2 million in new expenses. However, to offset the increase, county officials are expecting $14 million in new state funding because of an increase in fiscal 2019 enrollment numbers. The additional revenue stream brings the public schools estimated local tax funding increase to $92.2 million over the current year.

Since the newest estimates still leave the county’s public schools with a $38.8 million shortfall, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) voted against the motion.

“I cannot support a funding gap to LCPS knowing it will be that large,” Randall said.

Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) also voted against the motion. Supervisors Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) were absent for the vote.

A $1.125 tax rate would leave the public schools with a $19 million budget gap compared to $33.4 million at $1.10 and $38.8 million at $1.09.

Superintendent Eric Williams is expected to present the first draft of the LCPS budget on Tuesday.


LCPS has not moved teachers up a step only 1 time in the last 20 years.  That’s a fact.  Not sure why nonsense you are implying.  A teacher that started in 1987 is somewhere around step 28-30.  That is, of course, if the teacher didn’t move between districts.  Districts are not stupid.  They won’t allow a teacher with 25 years of experience to seek out the district with the highest pay and jump to step 25.  If you transfer after exceeding step 15, you must enter the new district at step 15.  But otherwise, teachers move up a step each year regardless of how ineffective they are.  So the teacher who started in 1987 with a master’s in LCPS would earn $118K/yr ($101K salary and $17K pension contribution) for only 195 days of work per year in the proposed FY19 budget.

You believe there is a consistent correlation between years of experience and steps on the pay scale?  Interesting.  And those steps have never been frozen, right? And a teacher with 30 years of experience and a master’s started in 1987; what was the starting pay then?  What step is that teacher on?  Care to guess?  The difference is, good teachers don’t do it for the money, which seems to be your biggest issue, your “reality.”

So many misleading comments by 1965. If LCPS teachers are already working more than 195 days (nobody says 180 like you tried to slip in), then let’s put it in your contract. Wouldn’t affect you if you are actually working those days but get ready for the howls because as one teacher posted on Facebook this past week, she likes having more time with her kids during these days off.

Second, teachers can earn recertification simply by creating staff or off dev material/workshops. I repeat. There is no need to take classes. If our teachers developed staff PD (who knows, call it teacher PBL, ha), they would learn more about their profession and possibly impart that knowledge to other teachers. May I recommend you learn the facts on Common Core and teach it to both teachers and the clueless school board alike?

I am not even sure how to respond to a comment like the “attrition rate” for teachers is “five years”. I think you meant to repeat the myth that the attrition rate within the first 5 years for teachers is 50% but that has been debunked using actual data showing it was a very low 17%. LCPS’ own data show teachers hardly leave for other districts much less quit after that. Teachers work 3/4 of what others do, earn a $50k/yr pension for life at age 52, and earn $100k/yr by their early 1950’s with just a masters in LCPS. And it appears they can be totally divorced from reality and still keep their jobs.

One common misconception is that teachers “only” work 180 days per year.  Combine work days before, during, and after the school year with mandatory recertification graduate course work, parent conferences before and after school, nights and weekends (and snow days) planning/grading/responding to emergency parent emails about homework and projects, coaching responsibilities or clubs for those who must subsidize their incomes to survive, and it becomes a “real job” as some would say. 

The attrition rate for new teachers is typically five years.  Those who quit do so for a number of reasons, including starting families, (most teachers are female and stay home for several years, then come back) constant moving from school to school, (due to building staffing changes) returning to college, (to find a different career, presumably) and personal reasons. 

Teaching takes years to master, and often the many changes that come down the road can enhance teaching, while others can be frustrating.  Trends come and go, so adaptability is key, but young teachers struggle to modify what they are learning this year only to have to give it up for something else next year.  This county is blessed with good teachers who tolerate much more than other jobs throw at them, yet they know that what’s in the students’ best interests will keep them coming back year after year. 

But reading the continual banter about “overpaid” teachers, preferential treatment, and statements of opinion based on questionable data is what prompted me to write.

Bob, we know what the marginal change in a teacher’s utility per year of experience is… after 3 years, there are NO effects from more experience.  However, there are huge differences in performance ... up to the equivalent of 6 months of student instruction in a given year (ineffective teachers impart 6 months of value while great teachers impart 12 months). So why don’t we evaluate teachers objectively and pay them accordingly?

To Loudoun 1965. Your comments raise a few questions I think are worthy of discussion:
For a 180 day commitment minus 2 weeks vacation 10 snow days, sick days, seriously discounted health benefits and pension plan what is the marginal utility of labor “CHANGE” each year of experience. What is the real income per hour? I understand the limits of the salary scale but in my experience it is the frustration of teachers not able to do a great job for every student due to being forced to handle a crowded classroom that is more of a cause for leaving than salary. In fact, it is precisely the reality that Fairfax and Loudoun pay so much more than the rest of the state that justifies the ridiculous composite index which extracts well over $200 million per year out of what Loudoun should get back from the state BECAUSE they feel if we can pay so much for employees we don’t need the money from the state. Remuneration needs to be revised - we agree! Intellectual property rights can also add income to teachers who package their lesson plans for other counties around the world for income especially when it replaces a $300 text book barely used! Let’s hope the school board takes up these topics.
Bob Ohneiser Esq.

Yeah “so sick” of my 401k ending the year at 23%.  On another note the average tax payment never seems to apply to me.  Tax payments have have gone down maybe 5 times since 1977.  Sure the lower tax rate sounds good but with assessments higher every year it negates it.  Rein in the overspending in the school budget and reduce the percentage of the budget that goes to the schools.  70% is absolutely ridicules.  It should be capped at 50% at most.  Every other county service fights for 30%.  That’s how you get your social services paid for.  Not by raising taxes.

A teacher would have to have a doctoral degree and work for more than 28 years based on the step system before making 100k, so the math isn’t there.  I’m curious what the percentage of teachers working in LCPS who have to live in Winchester or WV is due to the cost of living in Loudoun.  Better yet, how many new teachers w/ student loans can afford to rent, let alone buy property here?  Up until the late 90’s, many teachers living in Loudoun jumped the fence to Fairfax for better pay. Hatrick understood he was losing good teachers and then came the change to keep or attract teachers to Loudoun.  Education degrees are on the decline nation-wide as students see how impossible it is to live on a first year salary if they’ve incurred tuition debt.  If the pay is so generous, why are schools experiencing shortages in math and foreign language teachers?  Seems pretty clear.

So Sick, I hear there are some collectives you can join in Vermont where you all pool everything together. Or maybe you could try one of the socialist states (Cuba or Europe). The US was founded on private property rights. The gov’t taking one’s property ($) by force for your whimsical wants is not what most of us believe in.

Dunno, but I think LoudounClear makes some sense.  The joy of living in Loudoun seems to diminish every year—more traffic, more lines to wait it, less of the things that drew us here in the first place.  You can sit on your lounge chair, yell at the TV and say if we could just stop paying taxes we’d be so much better off…but you know what?  We’re all in this together, we could each chip in a bit and through the multiplier of our collective effort, we get some good things started that we’re unable to do individually.   

You can complain about taxes and government and elect fools like Trump to scratch your “stick it to ‘em” itch…or you can do something to improve your surroundings.

OMG…what will the children do if they don’t have gold plated football fields!??


The #1 thing we can do to improve the quality of life in Loudoun is to allow the people to keep more of what they earn.

I agree with others, it doesn’t matter what the rate is if I pay more out in property taxes.
And With many others not paying their share in Loudoun…

Everett, SGP, and Bob nailed it, can I get an AMEN brothers and sisters!

Here’s an idea.  Build some parks and other amenities for taxpayers and beef up support for the less fortunate here in Loudoun County.  Increase funding for libraries.  There are many things we could do to improve the quality of life here in Loudoun.

How about a plan to get back under $1 over next few years? How? HHMI, hospitals and other well heeled non-profits pay NOTHING! Dulles Airport parking lots make millions and PAY NOTHING! The STATE TAKES WELL OVER $200 MILLION PER YEAR OUT OF WHAT lOUDOUN SHOULD GET BACK FOR EDUCATION FROM SALES TAXES (THAT IS 3 CENTS OFF THE TAX RATE), Make VDOT pay its fair share of capital projects, Force LCPS to be better stewards of funds applied to it! (artificial turf fields over priced, renovation project for Lucketts E.S. - three classrooms is 3 times what it cost to expand Seldens Landing - four classrooms. Stop waiving property taxes for developer held properties already in process of sub-dividing etc, etc, etc.
Bob Ohneiser Esq.

Loudoun citizens, you are being way OVERTAXED!!

The FY17 audit showed LCPS received over $40M more in funding than it actually spent.  On that basis alone, and since the current FY19 budget request adds on to previous years, there is no current deficit even if the BOS caves and gives LCPS a gold-plated budget including the 7% raises for the school board teacher spouses.

But it gets much worse.  Overall, Loudoun had $100M+ more in revenues received than in actual budgeted expenses.  We all know the BOS likes to plan for $10M’s in extra tax revenue so they can give goodies to their supporters via the year-end slush fund.  But why do we allow them to do that? 

Instead of setting an “equalized rate” which will raise $10M’s more than is needed, the BOS needs to set a tax rate of no more than $1.03.  That would only reduce expected revenues by $48M (6 x $8M/cent).  Combined with the $40M supposed “shortfall” (40+48=88), it’s still less than the $100M surplus Loudoun ran just last year.

And LCPS’ budget request is so ridiculous:

  - includes $5-6M more than is needed to give step increases (outright fraud)

  - a 7% raise to teachers (hmmm, could this be targeted to school board members’ spouses who serve in the sweet range here?)

  - teachers tranfer INTO Loudoun from other districts because LCPS pays MORE including throughout retirement.  Speaking of retirement, these are the teachers earning $100K/yr through the last 1/3 of their career who can retire at the ripe ol age of 52 with a $50K/yr pension for life

We have $10M’s more each year that can be used to legitimately give the law enforcement and first responders a justified raise.  But why are we allowing the BOS to raise $10M’s more in taxes just so they can give this out to their spouses and favored contributors?!

According the the article a possible 3.5 cent decrease per $100 of assessed value BUT a 3% appreciation on real estate - AVERAGE. Possibly then some homeowners can get hit with an increase if they get let’s say a 5% increase in assessed value (since 3% is just an AVG).

WOW!! this article is really biased.  In my 15 years real estate taxes only go up and up every year and who cares about the rate…in the end I care about what is actual dollar amount.

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