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.