The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors moved closer to finalizing the county's $3.2 billion budget for fiscal 2020 during a work session last week, sending the spending plan to the April 2 board meeting for formal action.

The budget set for approval will carry a tax rate of $1.045 per $100 in assessed value, which is four cents lower than the current tax rate of $1.085. The $1.045 mark is the equalized rate – that which will keep tax bills steady for the average home – based on the final assessment portfolio from the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue.

With an average property assessment of $488,000, the average tax bill for fiscal 2020 comes in at $5,100.

Highlights for the budget that takes effect July 1 include $25 million to address employee compensation, an addition of nearly 200 county positions and a $76.3 million year-over-year increase for the county schools. County employees will see at least a 2 percent pay raise, with some employees seeing more.

The budget also provides millions of dollars to open new facilities, human services safety net programs, public safety and support for the county’s capital program and community development agencies.

“The only reason this budget has been so easy is because our revenues are so wonderful right now,” Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said, commending county staff and economic development for its work. “We’ve added a lot of costs to this budget, we’re catching up with class and compensation for our county employees, we’re providing a lot of additional FTEs to get our levels of service up to where it belongs, and we couldn’t do that if we didn’t have such robust revenues coming in from the investments the board made in economic development eight years ago, which you all have carried out so well.”

County officials say revenue from business personal property taxes on computer equipment has consistently grown at a rate of close to 30 percent or more year-over-year for the last three years due to the number of data centers in the county.

The board will also be tasked with approving the amended $2.5 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and adopting three capital funds: the Public Facilities Fund, the Major Equipment Replacement Fund and the Capital Asset Preservation Program Fund.

The board is expected to consider providing up to $15 million of lease revenue financing in fiscal 2021 for the regional Children’s Science Center project and releasing the funds contingent on the execution of a memorandum of understanding for the project.

Developed in partnership with the Fairfax-based Children’s Science Center, the new regional science center at Kincora will be an extension of the Science Museum of Virginia and plans to provide informal science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning experiences.

On Monday, the board approved the addition of one support coordinator for the Department of Mental Health Services at $124,413, two civilian fire inspectors for $316,933 and one firefighter at $121,251.

“It feels like we are starting to catch up with positions,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said.

A motion to appropriate an additional $2 million in funding to Loudoun County Public Schools failed on a 7-2 vote. The school system ended up with a $2 million allocation shortfall from the commonwealth. Supervisors Koran Saines (D-Sterling) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) voted to fund the school system, which will operate a fiscal 2020 budget of $1.28 billion, with supervisors sending $873.5 million in funding.

(24) comments

amerigirl

DavisB, explain why they would need to make $8K? What earning deficit? You said the starting pay for teachers with a bachelor’s is $50,171. In Loudoun the starting pay for many professionals is below that. Salaries for position with the same degree, Administrative asst., $37,206, Office Manager $44, 265. The average starting pay for a professional in Loudoun for the first year of work is $50,990, and they only have 1 to 2 weeks off and many have to work OT without pay when projects are due. So, the starting difference is only a little over $800. They don’t have a week off at Christmas and 8 more in the summer. As I said, they are underpaid, especially dedicated teachers, for the extra hours they put in. However, they are not the only profession that has extended work hours making a salary vs hourly wage.

BobOhneiserEsq

DaPark . Thanks for the question. Specifics is the truth while platitudes can cover hidden agenda. For me it all becomes the results of better management with the Board of Supervisors acting in solidarity (pull partisans together not have a polar arrangement) for the benefit of the community not special interests or self serving agenda such as placating builder/developer sponsors. For example - where do we get extra revenues or better trade-offs to both support the community and lower the tax rate further? The following large entities pay nothing in property tax or are severely under-assessed or don't contribute significant benefits to the community: HHMI, Greenway, trailer parks, golf courses, surplus land (such as the Redskins have), hospitals and other private foundations and many others. When a Loudoun resident rides the Greenway which is severely under-assessed do they ride for free or get a discount? When a county or LCPS employee needs hospital services do they get a discount even though that hospital is being underwritten by the taxpayers of Loudoun? Better management means NOT saying its OK to pack the east and transition area with tax corrosive high density student generating residential even though the data center revenues are providing political cover to do so! Fairness, efficiency and community support should be the prism with which ALL decisions by the BOS are made. I hope that at least starts to answer your question.

saras

Thanks for breaking this down. Unfortunately many are unaware of these inequalities as such the current BOS gets away pretty much with doing whatever they want.

Concerned

When Supervisor Higgins is doling out pork spending, we all pay for his favors. Paid out $150,000 so the Waterford gentrification Foundation could "repair their finances" and gifted Loudoun mutual $42,000 so they can enlarge a non-conforming building (re-zone their property). Loudoun Mutual has over 44 million in assets. The Waterford Gentrification Foundation has over 6 million in assets.

LoudounPulse

I remember when the budget was less than $1/billion.
For all the fussing, Loudoun actually has a rock solid budget that isn't swamped with debt and the vast majority of our budget goes into an "investment" that is attracting more capital to Loudoun each day. The Knowledge Economy in the 21st century is our future and spending nearly 60% of our money on it is paying dividends in spades.

So to all the haters, if your don't like educational investments, please relocate to Mississippi. You'll enjoy the benefits (or lack thereof) of rock bottom spending on education.

Virginia SGP

Let's review the facts.

1. LCPS has the LOWEST teacher vacancy and attrition rates in all of Virginia. The vacancy rate is an infinitesimal 0.6% or less than half of Fairfax' rate.

2. LCPS teachers earn $65K/year their very first year out of school. Two married teachers earn more than $140K/year within 3-4 years, more than the median Loudoun household income by the age of 26.

3. LCPS demanded 10-15% raises for teachers. That averages between $6-7K/year per teacher with many receiving up to $9.5K+.

4. LCPS is spending over $75M on raises alone. That equates to more than the TOTAL yearly funding increase for 3 of the last 4 years when enrollment growth was 2.5-4.0% compared to this year's minimal 0.8% enrollment growth.

5. Overall, LCPS plans to increase expenses by $125M, or more than 11% on a $1156M budget, compared to that 0.8% enrollment growth.

6. While LCPS is spending $75M on raises, they are spending less than $3M to increase the number of seats in vocational programs and the Academies. Let's repeat: $75M spent on paying upper-middle-class teachers 10%+ raises while spending $3M on more options for students. That results in only 10% of the students wishing to enroll in those programs gaining access.

7. LCPS spends more than $5K more per employee on their health plans relative to neighboring districts. Multiple board members take advantage of these gold-plated health plans nearing $20K/year despite having access to medical plans at their private employer.

We have seen student suicides, retaliation against parents for trying to enforce their students' rights, and total breakdowns of safety and security at the schools. Yet this school board continues to focus on jacking up the salaries of their spouses, LCPS employees. This budget is scandalous and obscene for making working single-parent taxpayers pay an extra $180+ in taxes from their hard-earned but meager private sector raises so LCSB can give $9K/year raises to teachers who leave at the lowest rate in all of Virginia. It is now harder to get a teaching job in LCPS than to be admitted to Harvard because of this largesse. And yet only a small fraction of our students who wish to obtain a career skill in Monroe tech will be admitted. This board cares about adults, not the students and certainly not the struggling taxpayers.

DavisB

Let's review the actual facts, not the ones that SPG posts: According to the 2019 payscale, new teachers with a bachelors, earn $50,171, not $65. Even with a masters, new teachers will earn $55, 9541m not $65k.

Then, SGP wants teacher to be married to earn as much as someone in his position as a government contractor/project manager earns solo.

So, bottom line is do not believe numbers from SGP

amerigirl

But what is their salary if they have summer jobs? I'm not saying that they are overpaid, I think if anything they are underpaid considering all the outside the classroom time they need to put in while school is in session. But I never had a job with that many weeks vacation.

DavisB

amerigirl - if you know about summer jobs that pay $8k for 8 weeks of work then please post them - I am sure there are many teachers who would jump that that - but if you are talking about retail/food service where teacher can make a few hundred over they summer then you need to look at the finance closer. While that might pay for the wine needed to unwind after 10 months of teaching, it wont make a dent in their earnings deficit.

saras

Right on!

LoudounBornandRaised92

If you're going to say "let's review facts" can you please actually provide facts and not false information? Your second point is completely false. A $65k salary at step one on the proposed salary scale is for DOCTORAL DEGREE employees. How many 22-year-old, fresh out of college teachers do you know with doctorates? The answer is zero. A step one teacher with a bachelor's degree, which is what you're referring to with your post is $53.7k. As of this most recent year, it's $49.6k. On the proposed budget, a step one teacher with a master's degree is at $59.5k, and currently at $55.4k. That's a HUGE difference compared to what you're posting. You have your opinion, but spreading false information is dangerous, and as active as you are on this site and in the community, you should know better.

Second, you always mention the lowest teacher vacancy rate in Virginia and use that as fuel for the fire against raises. The two are completely unrelated. Do you know how many young teachers or teachers in general live with their parents, or live in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or further out in VA such as Winchester, and commute every day to LoCo? I can think of 20 off the top of my head, and my network is pretty small.

If you think this raise is all about lining SB members spouse pockets, then I don't know what to tell you. This is about paying teachers so maybe they can afford to live in Loudoun, or aren't working part time jobs. I work 2 part time jobs on top of my full time job with LCPS. You can't treat the school system like any other business that uses supply and demand. Our product is producing successful students that can contribute to society. And if you think a teacher or employee of LCPS works only 7-8 hours a day, then you're dead wrong. I encourage you to get your teaching degree so you can appreciate what you so often criticize.

Use facts with your arguments, like you say, not false information to try and scare and sway people. Be better than that.

Lawman

Again, don’t like it, move. Go to one of those low taxes no services no education states where even the military does not want recruits from.

WesternSky

In case anyone cares, the Loudoun County Budget has more than TRIPLED since 2005.

amerigirl

That doesn’t surprise me since it has been the fastest growing county for quite some time now and it is 2019. Since 2010, Loudoun County’s population has increased more than 27 percent, to more than 380,000. Not to mention the number of business that are here. Thirty-one Loudoun-based businesses made Inc. magazine's 2018 list of the fastest-growing companies in America. It is home to world headquarters for several Internet-related and high tech companies, including Verizon Business, Telos Corporation, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and Paxfire.

WesternSky

Ok. Since 2010, the Budget is up 100% vs population growth of 27%. I get that kids are expensive -- but the spending growth isn't sustainable..

WesternSky

We have a debt problem.

Lawman

More Cowbell quit whining. You live in a top flight County. Things cost. Want low taxes move to West Virginia, Kansas or Oklahoma. The rest of us like living in a civilized community.

More Cowbell

@Lawman kind of funny coming from you, you're usually on here condoning criminal activity in Loudoun. Again, living here for 30 years, way too much wasteful spending. Like smart boards in all classrooms, buses with less than 10 kids on them, County offices working banking hours(9-4, 1 hour lunch), 1000s of business in Loudoun paying their employees under the table, BOS wanting a $60K raise, Metro, Dulles toll road, Greenway, we're taxed more on gas, cell phone bill, cable bill. When I first moved here, the tax rate was .92 cents.
Loudoun is great for those not paying, like those retiring to Loudoun, and many families living together(overcrowded housing). By the way I volunteered my time and money many times because my kids were moved to 4 different elementary schools and they always needed help for equipment, jungle gym, ball fields.

BobOhneiserEsq

Cowbell - well said especially when the state average property tax rate )which includes the high northern Va counties) is around 79 cents. What should disturb folks is that it appears the influx of data centers is being used to allow further approvals of highly tax rate corrosive, high density, student generating residential communities like the 3706 unit one just approved. Isn't the mix of high quality job producing commercial versus residential supposed to be a priority for being fixed? Did you also notice the democratic chairperson of the BOS actually did not vote to fully fund the school system while still allowing the richest entities of Loudoun to avoid paying any property taxes? I guess we should feel grateful that our home payments didn't go up as much as they would have without the data centers.Imagine how happy the Greenway folks are for continuing to be under-assessed and HHMI for paying nothing for their nearly billion in land and buildings. Will property tax rates go up next year as the Metro payments start or do we choose to not mention anything beyond this year as it is an election year? Our property tax rate should be well under a dollar and WILL BE if most of the registered voters in the county actually show up on November 5th!

DaPark

Bob, how do you plan on funding county services? No new FTEs? Axe the comp and pay plan? Cut the school budget?

amerigirl

That is an unfair statement. The state property tax is much lower in rural areas. NOVA is going to be higher just because of location and the infrastructure needed to support it, not just roads but schools, libraries, etc. Loudoun property rates are $1.085 compared to (more developed) Fairfax at $1.150, and if you live within the town of Herndon you can add another $0.265 or Vienna $0.225. Prince William’s rate is $1.125. Fauquier (less developed) at $0.994, it seems to me we are pretty much average, if not a tad low, for the area. Lawman has this one right, to pay less you would need to be farther out. I know plenty of people who live farther out, pay less taxes, but spend so much of their time getting to and from work. It would be an individual’s decision on what is important to them.

LoudounPulse

You say HHMI pays nothing for their building and land, but please tell me how much is paid in property taxes, sales taxes, personal property taxes, etc from all their employees?

The problem with political leaders is they only see the loss of top line taxes and use it to make a political argument, yet they completely ignore the secondary taxes generated from the very existence of that business in their community. Lest we forget Amazon leaving Long Island City, New York. Political leaders fussed about tax incentives to attracted Amazon and completely disregarded the $3.2/B in incomes that would be spent each year by the employees who would live and work in the community.

More Cowbell

In 28 out of 30 years, my property tax in Loudoun has gone up. It should be under $1. Get rid of wasteful spending. Stop giving LCPS a blank check.

amerigirl

In the last 30 years everything has gone up.Just look at grocery prices.

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