Loudoun County Board of Supervisors

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors listens to requests from department heads during a budget work session in Leesburg in early March.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a fiscal 2021 budget that reduces the tax rate one cent.

The effect of the new budget on county homeowners remains uncertain given COVID-19's impact on the local economy.

The county plans to freeze $100 million as a result of COVID-19.

The budget, which goes into effect in July, totals approximately $3 billion in appropriations for the county government and school system, including a real property tax rate of $1.035 per $100 in assessed value, which is one cent lower than the current tax rate and higher than what was previously thought of to be the equalized tax rate.

The $1.035 rate was expected to raise the average homeowner's bill 2 percent, but county officials said given the pandemic's impact on the local economy, it's unclear what the precise impact of the rate will be on county tax bills.

In 2020, the average homeowner's tax bill in Loudoun County was $5,162. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, under the proposed tax rate of $1.035, bills were to increase by 2 percent to an average of $5,272. Tax bills are calculated by factoring in home assessments and the tax rate.

Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R) cast the lone vote opposing budget at the $1.035 rate.

“Our citizens are going to — quite frankly — feel the pain of this, and I don't think raising the rate rather than keeping it at what we know to be the equalized rate is the right thing to do at this particular time," Kershner said. “One of our citizens right now —they’re in Loudoun County — they're going without work, they are burning through their savings, some of them are living paycheck to paycheck, and now they have no paycheck, and I don't necessarily think that adopting this particular rate with the assessments that we currently have is in their best interest.”

Dulles Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R) said the reality is that some people will not be able to pay their taxes as early as June.

Letourneau said a message he has told his constituents is that the government is still open and that “we have employees that are working every day and we have to be able to pay them.”

With departments such as family services, emergency and law enforcement services still operating, Letourneau said it’s the county government’s responsibility to “cover those expenses as much as we can.”

The board and county staff shared concerns looking at the current and future budget. Staff estimates a revenue shortfall of approximately $96 million.

Caleb Kershner

Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R) speaking to staff during a Loudoun County budget work session in March.

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said he has directed staff to limit expenditures in the remaining months of fiscal 2020 by instituting a hiring freeze for vacant positions and directing departments to limit all non-essential operating and maintenance expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year. The 2020 fiscal year ends June 30.

In response, the board unanimously approved recommendations to reserve $100 million — $40 million for county expenditures and $60 million for school division expenditures — until the county’s economic future is clearer. Including the $100 million in the fiscal 2021 general fund expenditures protects any revenue shortfalls, according to county staff.

If the revenues materialize to support those expenditures, the board will have fully funded the school division’s budget request of $952 million.

For the county expenditures, the freeze includes most new expenditures, including the 3.5% merit increase for eligible county employees and step increases for public safety employees; operating and maintenance adjustments; and new departmental resource requests for capital facility openings and departmental priorities.

More than 130 new full-time positions were expected to be approved to "maintain or enhance current service levels, open new facilities and support other priorities,” according to county staff. These include 14 new positions related to the county courthouse expansion, eight positions for the new Ashburn Senior Center set to open in spring 2021 and seven for the new animal shelter expected to open in Leesburg in the fall.

Additionally, the freeze includes more than $475,000 for five positions in Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services, $197,798 to support the state-funded public defender’s office.

The proposed reserved county expenditures would not impact the already implemented new classification and compensation system. Cost of implementing the new pay plan is $25.4 million — $11 million of which is in the current year's budget.

County staff said when the board releases funding from the reserve it will be done proportionally with the county and school division.

For example, if $30 million was released from the reserve by the board, $12 million would be released for county expenditures and $18 million for school division expenditures.

Last month, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said employees have been paid $0.86 on the dollar compared to regional counterparts. She said many county workers have been accepting higher paying jobs elsewhere because Loudoun has consistently lowered the tax rate.

Randall on Tuesday said, “We realize that people are having a hard time, we realize that there are people out of work and our first goal, as I said before was to keep our employees in their positions and pay their current salary, with the comp and class in place because we didn't want our employees losing their jobs and that's what we're doing here today.”

The board also approved 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 percent. Some of the new transportation undertakings 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 initiatives: the Broad Run Farms Waterline Extension and planning for a linear parks and trails system.

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.

In adopting the budget, the board also temporarily paused new capital projects that include debt financing until conditions improve for the county to enter the municipal debt market.

County staff will report to the finance committee on a monthly basis with updated forecasts of the fiscal 2020 budget and 2021 projections.

(26) comments

jke

The BoS plans to tax you until they can foreclose then they will sell the property to a disadvantaged minority for pennies on the dollar and call it affordable housing.

amerigirl

Umm, what?

LIfetimeLoudouner

Just heard a news report that other localities are actually cutting spending and taxes. And some counties in VA are actually cutting staff to help save their taxpayers. Unfortunately Loudoun citizens are being told “Let them eat cake” while our board raises our taxes. Phyllis “Marie Antoinette” Randall has no heart for the average citizen only her special interest groups.

Time for this board to resign because of their gross incompetence and total ignorance of what is happening in the real world. Shame on you !

amerigirl

Loudoun’s real property tax rate will be $1.035 per $100 in July, so in actuality we have lowered it by 1 cent. The proposed budget had it being raised by 1 cent. Loudoun is a rapidly growing county not established as other counties in the area. But they can and did put a freeze on, which they did. If you are really a lifetime Loudouner you have seen the change. Loudoun is no longer rural we are a suburb. There is demand for school, more police, infrastructure, etc. that you won’t see in other counties, because they already have them. What went up was the value of your home. It is being aligned with the counties near us that are also suburban. We are still lower than Fairfax (proposed $1.180 kept it at $1.15). So they didn’t drop it, they kept it at the current rate and didn’t increase proposed in 2021 budget that would raise the county's real-estate-tax rate by 3 cents to $1.18. They did put in other new taxes instead. On the other side of us, Prince William decided to keeping the real estate tax rate flat at $1.125 per $100 of assessed value also higher than Loudoun.

More Cowbell

My problem is many small businesses had to close due to gov claiming non essential. How or why is Loudoun still paying their employees, especially non essential? Why can't they collect unemployment? And why not give back those big raises you all received? You are basically telling the tax payers in Loudoun a big F if you were laid off and out of work.

amerigirl

What county employees are nonessential?

ace10

According to the County, 1/3 of their employees are non-essential. These are the people who don't go to work during inclement weather. Let's start by furloughing them. And then move on to making more cuts to those who aren't DIRECTLY involved with public health and safety. #StopTheInsanity

pual mase

Estimate about half

amerigirl

well ace since you are prone to lying I would like to see where you got your info.

amerigirl

Ace, what people who don't go to work during inclement weather? Are they full time or seasonal workers. The county has contract workers that are not on the county payroll.

jke

Now you know who your enemies on the Board of Supervisors are and add Hemstrret.

amerigirl

Geeze, are we at war? Is that why you wanted gun shops considered essential?

ace10

Where are all of this BoS' cheerleaders telling us to move out of the County if we don't like the reckless spending?

amerigirl

Do you ever tell the truth? People told you that you didn't have to stay in Loudoun NOT that you had to move out.

ace10

So you support the actions by the Board to raise taxes for Loudoun property owners this year? Yes or No?

ace10

This is like where you tried to defend your comments which wished illness on others (repeatedly). Now you are trying to wiggle out of your comments which suggested that anyone who didn't like the taxes should move out of the county. You're trying to defend you own indefensible remarks by calling me a liar. Good grief. This is a new low for you.

pual mase

A distinction without a difference

amerigirl

Ace, you have a real problem dealing with people. You didn’t get an answer on the same day (you just made those comments yesterday and they didn’t even show up until the evening) as you asked a question so you go off on a rant. First can you do math? The actual tax went down by 1 cent. The assessments went up. No I don’t think it was good timing for property owners. Your pants must be on fire, show me where I wished illness on anyone. Didn’t happen. Show me where I said any one should move, again with the lies. I said they could. People move for tax reasons all the time; it keeps Delaware populated. Well good grief you are a liar. You think twisting and replacing my words isn’t the same as lying? That is a truly low move. That is your typical move, and then you rant.

JoeSchmoe

I hope everyone remembers this the next time they are up for election. Many of us are wondering how we are going to pay our rent or mortgage, never mind a tax increase.

LeesburgFan

Great to see my Supervisor (Caleb Kershner) acting prudently and conservatively in supporting lower taxes as he pledged during his election campaign! What are the rest of the Supervisors thinking?? Hemstreet also acted prudently by freezing all those raises that are scheduled, and other areas of spending. However, the Mental Health Dept should get the increased personnel.......we are in the middle of a 100-year Pandemic.....susceptible people coping with Depression could definitely use this critical department. Come on, use common sense please, BOS.

pual mase

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors raises taxes on its citizens in a national emergency that forces many private businesses out of business, worker unemployed and people digging into their savings if they have any to afford necessities. OUTRAGEOUS!

Apparently, county workers have guaranteed full employment, with raises, as the masses struggle.

How about furloughing no-essential county employees, public safety employees excepted, that have less or nothing to do as activity slows due to the stay at home order.......like those in the private sector?

How about suspending all the costly, non-essential programs that loaded up the budget, like compensation "equity" programs and the wasteful, school programs that have more to do with political correctness and expanding administrative staff than educating kids?

Business as usual with unhinged spending with a few token gestures to create an illusion of fiscal responsibiilty doesn't cut it.

You can bet these same politicians will be crying for more taxes soon for crisis funding when they refuse to tighten their belts now.

Throw the bums out ASAP!

amerigirl

The 2020 fiscal year ends June 30. I sincerely hope that by July 1st we are not in a national emergency. But if trump doesn’t get control of it there is a good chance we will. What non-essential county employees are there? And why were they there to begin with if they weren’t needed? What school programs that have more to do with political correctness? Or do you, consider racial bias a political thing?

pual mase

I hope our impotent dem governor gets it under control too.

Dems never admit government jobs are not essential and government programs should never end and only grow. They are there because unlike private enterprise, government has no competition and little incentive for efficiency. And it is almost impossible to get fired for poor performance. Dems buy their loyalty by paying gov employees more and expanding government jobs.

Any decent manager operating without political vote buying motives could probably cut the county budget in half.

Playing the race card is another Dem go to tactic.

I’ve run large private organizations and dealt with government contracting and government operations. Poor management , inefficiency, bad decision making is the norm in government.

To argue otherwise is naive.

LIfetimeLoudouner

So only one supervisor voted against raising taxes that gives all county bureaucrats a RAISE. Citizens are loosing their jobs, businesses are closing and this board gives out raises to keep staff from leaving. What a joke I’m sure there are many unemployed citizens who would love to take a county staff position that pays. HELLO BOARD citizens are hurting and you want to inflict more financial pain.

Only government Bureaucrats are getting raises, everyone else is struggling just to survive. Can’t wait for 2023 and this irresponsible board is voted out.

Fiscalconservative

We're all struggling and Phyllis and Company increase our taxes. They were elected to serve the citizens of Loudoun County and yet they seem to have lost sight of that. Why should the county employees receive a raise when employees of the private sector won't? Shame on the board of supervisors.

LoudounBornandRaised92

Here's to hoping that freeze on MHSADS isn't completely cut in the end. The wait list for mental health services through LCMH county are long as is.

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