Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet on Wednesday presented his proposed fiscal 2021 budget totaling $3.024 billion in appropriations for the county government and public schools.
Hemstreet said his spending plan is balanced at the tax rate at $1.035 per $100 in assessed value -- one cent less than the current tax rate of $1.045 -- based on the final assessment portfolio from the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue.
The proposed budget does not carry the equalized tax rate – that which keeps taxes steady for the average homeowner. The equalized rate for this coming budget year is $1.01.
In 2020, the average homeowner's tax bill in Loudoun County was $5,162. Under the proposed tax rate of 1.035, bills would increase by two percent to an average of $5,272.
Supporting the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and addressing employee pay are among the priorities the administrator presented to the Board of Supervisors. The county is also opening new facilities, supporting board initiatives and addressing various departments’ top priorities.
“ … I believe that the proposed budget not only meets the needs of our organization and our community, it is also responsible, executable and sustainable,” Hemstreet said in a prepared statement.
The spending plan includes the addition of 150 positions in 25 different departments to maintain or enhance current service levels, open new facilities and support other priorities.
Additional highlights include an increase of more than $75 million to fund all but $2.5 million of LCPS' budget request of nearly $1.38 billion and $37.2 million for employee compensation that consists of: $12.2 million to provide a market-competitive 3.5% pay increase for general workforce employees and public safety step increases, continuing the county’s merit and step compensation program; and $25 million to cover the annualized cost of the implementation of the new classification and compensation system.
One of the most notable budget challenges, according to county officials, is implementing the new classification and compensation structure for the county government, which is aimed at improving pay for county employees.
Other factors shaping the budget include the increased funding for the CIP and debt service. An additional $49.3 million over the previous fiscal year is included in Hemstreet's budget to fulfill county debt and capital obligations, which is higher than previous years, according to county staff.
The budget includes $15 million in local gas tax funding for the county's contribution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and for the operational and capital payments for the anticipated start of Metrorail’s Silver Line revenue service in Loudoun during fiscal 2021.
Hemstreet also presented the amended fiscal 2021-2026 CIP, which includes both county and school projects at $2.9 billion for the six-year planning period.
The category with the largest expenditure percentage is transportation projects at 40%. Some of the new transportation projects in the CIP include widening a portion of eastbound Route 7 between Loudoun County Parkway and Route 28 and an intersection improvement on Shellhorn Road.
Other new projects in the CIP include two board-directed projects: the Broad Run Farms Waterline Extension and planning for a linear parks and trails system, as well as county-designated critical technology infrastructure projects.
The board is expected to adopt the budget during its April 7 business meeting. Three public hearings on the budget are scheduled for:
-Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. and at 6 p.m. Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, SE in Leesburg; and
-Feb. 29 at 9 a.m., Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn.
Anyone who wishes to speak at the public hearings can sign up in advance for one speaking slot, beginning Feb. 13, by calling 703-777-0204. More information about Hemstreet's budget proposal can be found at Loudoun.gov/budget.
Editor's note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to clarify County Administrator Tim Hemstreet's proposed budget does not carry the equalized tax rate.