Following the Bouncing County Budget Ball
So, you’re happily employed, expecting a raise in salary this year, and look forward to watching your kids play ball on one of the many County park facilities this summer- after, of course, they do their studying in one of the various public libraries scattered across Loudoun. You’ve got it pretty good.
Now, a change in perspective.
It seems that the lowly folks who teach most of our local students can forget a pay raise for awhile, but we can still afford to add new ballfields to the list, and one of these years the libraries may very well find themselves open only on selected days due to hard financial times.
At least, that’s the way it sounds from the latest budget talks coming from the Board of Supervisors.
The latest school cut proposal stands at $30 million dollars- and, while the Board can’t pick ‘n choose how the school system spends its money, it’s calculated that the teachers would come out on the short end of the stick on that one.
Hope they know what they’re doin.’
The Board batted the ballfield item around awhile as well in their latest deliberations: Supervisors contemplated funding only enough for the Phil Bolen park project to open up access to the public sports facilities; they relented and moved forward with the entire project, from what we heard.
They also did some backtracking on an earlier cut slated for the Libraries: seems a $1 million dollar slash would have forced closings a couple of days a week- now it looks like they’re safe- at least for this year.
Oh- and we didn’t mention the decision on enlarging the local jail: the Supervisors decided to maintain funding on that project as well (we neglected it ’cause public safety is so often publicly ignored- until it’s needed).
In this wonderful, 21st Century society of ours, we need ever-expanding accommodations for the growing number of criminal malcontents who refuse to live by our rules ‘n regulations.
Loudoun County: a great place to live, work ‘n play, right?
But hold that thought- it’s not done yet.
Did you hear about the big decision to keep the site of a future train station right where it is (was)? Yep- the County Board voted to ignore a landowner (developer)’s plea to shift the hub a bit to link up a little closer to his proposed project.
The Supervisors say it would cost 10’s of millions of dollars to make the shift at this point- according to word they received from the empire builders on the incoming train line- the Metro Airports Authority.
So, a certain HC Antigone wanted to move the station site by about three football fields; now, it seems as if he may scrap his whole development proposal- which I’m sure would have saved Loudoun County from some terrible future woe.
Well, I’d like a train station to come up to my house- heck, I’m a pretty important guy- and I bet there’s lots of folks who feel the same way.
You want a train station, too, you say?
Well, let’s build a bunch of ’em.
Here a train station, there a train station- everywhere a train station.
Wait a minute.
I distinctly remember- during a previous incarnation in New York City- that I had to walk basically from the East River in Peter Cooper Village all the way to Third Avenue to catch a ride on the morning subway to work; then, I traversed the western edge of Chinatown and a little stint of TriBeCa to get to my destination- a total of at least a mile.
Then I had to repeat it in the afternoon.
And, contrary to popular belief, I’m not an Olympic athlete.
And people in Loudoun County can’t walk 600 feet?
Sure, I’ll buy that.
In fact, I’ll gladly pay my tax share of the money it would cost to move that train station in order to accommodate their easy access.
Thing is, though, we’ve pretty much taught our citizens to think this way: we build roads for cars instead of creating a public transportation system, which may be, arguably, unfeasible without a minimum population threshold.
So, next time you’re stuck in eastbound traffic on Route Seven some sunny morning, think about how much extra you wanna pay in order for someone else to walk less to get on a train.
No Taxation Without
Here’s a question for people in Leesburg: what do you get for your (double) tax dollar? Since you pay to the Town and the County, we just wanted to know if you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
See, this year’s budget in Leesburg figures to keep the tax rate the same; that means you may pay even less, since most assessments went down.
Wish the County had that situation- the ability to fund and keep the tax rate where it is.
Well, the Leesburg Town Council’s having a public hearing on this stuff on Tuesday night; it’d be a good chance to find out how folks feel about the relative funding levels for police, water ‘n sewer, road repairs (and construction!), parks, airport improvements, sidewalks ‘n trails and all kinds of things.
Bet those Council Members are glad they don’t have to worry about how to fund the County’s public school system.
One from way up in the Northern Hinterlands
So, have you been to the new Town Center up in Lovettsville? You know- that quaint little town way up in Northern Loudoun- way up there by Brunswick, Maryland?
You didn’t know they had a Town Center?
Well, a lot of Lovettsville residents probably don’t know either- ’cause they really don’t- at least not yet.
See, the project’s only partially done- plans changed when the development ran up against the recession- now, the designs call for lower-end housing and other amenities- in contrast to the glowing predictions of the project at its ribbon-cutting some years ago.
Well, anyway- with local elections coming up- it seems that this work-in-progress figures to be a big part of the debate.
In fact, there’s a candidates’ forum coming up next month that could be a pretty interesting affair: the local Business Association secured a time at the Lovettsville Elementary School on the first Monday evening in April.
Incumbents for Mayor and Council Seats face challenges from those who (unsurprisingly) call for a change of the guard.
And the challengers are residents of that Town Center, interestingly enough.
So, I guess they may have some sort of moral equity or some such in speaking about the project.
And- the business association intelligently recruited local resident John Flannery to moderate the upcoming forum; John’s a local attorney in Leesburg (living just outside Lovettsville for the past several years) who’s been involved in the little Town’s affairs (dirt roads ‘n power lines, to name a few) during his tenure.
I can attest to his ability to make for pertinent, fair questioning.
The Rich just keep getting…
You know, with all the local budget talks going on, there’s some sort of reverse poetic justice in this one: Loudoun County’s been declared the richest in the land. That’s gotta raise some hackles among those in the have-not category; the gazillionaires are just laughing all the way to the bank, I guess.
But is does come as kind of a kick in the pants that Forbes Magazine reported that our median income is right around $110,000, at a time when we can’t afford teacher salary increases.
Heck, maybe some of these people could put ballfields on their expansive front lawns ‘n save the County a million or two here ‘n there.
You know- sort of pitch in- it all adds up.
Some advice though: remember those you passed on the ladder of success- you may re-encounter them on your descent.
So- to those in those upper-income categories- please help support the nobler of the local causes as you enjoy your success; many of the folks working two jobs to serve you those burgers ‘n clean your homes may be shopping for their kids’ clothes at a nearby thrift shop- and getting their Christmas cheer from the Holiday Coalition.
I’m jus’ sayin.’
Hey man, it’s Sunday morning when I write this stuff- I could come out with some real preachifyin’ if I wanted to.
This is nothin.’
And that’s all for today; I’d say we got off pretty easy. Thanks for being here. Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader