Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet has presented a proposed budget for the Loudoun County government for Fiscal 2018 (FY 2018) to the Board of Supervisors, which begins July 1, 2017. The budget totals $2.5 billion in appropriations for the county government and school system.
The proposed budget is based on Board of Supervisors guidance to prepare a budget at the estimated equalized real property tax rate and to present requests for resources included in the budget in order of priority for the organization. The proposed budget was prepared at the equalized real property tax rate of $1.135. It includes prioritized requests that accomplish both the maintenance of existing service levels as well as the enhancement of some existing service levels.
The proposed budget includes base budget adjustments to continue to provide current services and to maintain the county’s ability to meet mandates and provide core public safety and social safety net services. The budget increases the local transfer to Loudoun County Public Schools by $61 million over FY 2017; the total transfer is $3.5 million less than the School Board’s adopted budget. The proposed budget also includes funds for the county’s employee merit pay program and includes resources for about 189 full-time equivalent positions in various departments, including those necessary to open new county facilities such as the Dulles South Multipurpose Center, Kirkpatrick Farms Fire Rescue Station, the Brambleton Library and the Ashburn’s Sheriff Station.
Hemstreet said that, while FY 2018 “presents a better economic picture than the previous year,” resources remain constrained. Hemstreet noted that the county’s population continues to increase, which brings an increased demand for services. Included with the proposed budget is a list of prioritized critical needs in a number of departments for the Board’s consideration.
Hemstreet said the proposed FY 2018 budget was developed in a better economic environment than that of FY 2017, due to improved external economic factors that form the basis from which the county’s revenues are derived. Loudoun property values continue to increase; the average assessed value of a single-family home in 2017 is $454,700, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2016. There has also been significant growth in personal property.
In the FY 2018 proposed budget, Hemstreet proactively replaced the local gasoline tax that had supported Loudoun County Transit operations with local tax funding. This replacement will allow Loudoun County Transit operations to be funded in the base budget in FY 2019, which means the county’s general fund will be better prepared to meet its upcoming financial obligation for Metrorail in FY 2019 as local gasoline tax will be diverted from county operations to help pay for Metrorail.
The Amended FY 2017 – FY 2022 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) totals $2.012 billion for the six-year planning period. The category with the largest expenditure percentage is transportation projects at 39 percent, or $789 million, followed by school projects at 32 percent, or $631 million.
To help address overcrowding and projected growth in the Loudoun County Public School system, the proposed CIP accelerates the opening date of a new high school in the Dulles South area by one year to the fall of 2020. The proposed CIP also maintains funding for high priority general government projects.
Hemstreet has advertised a real property tax rate of $1.140 to provide the Board with options to fund the Loudoun County Public Schools’ budget request and to fund county budget requests. The proposed budget is balanced at the equalized tax rate of $1.135, which is 1 cent lower than the current tax rate. The personal property tax rate of $4.20 would remain unchanged under the proposed budget.
The Board of Supervisors will determine the final real property tax rate and related budget policy decisions during March budget work sessions with adoption of the FY 2018 budget expected on April 4, 2017.
There are several ways in which members of the public may participate in the budget process, including Board of Supervisors public hearings, email, voice messages and social media. The Board will hold three public hearings on the proposed FY 2018 budget. The hearings are scheduled for: (1) Tuesday, February 28, 6:00 p.m., Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, S.E., Leesburg; (2) Thursday, March 2, 3:00 p.m., Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, S.E., Leesburg; and (3) Saturday, March 4, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building, 21000 Education Court, Ashburn. Anyone who wishes to speak at the public hearings may sign up in advance for one speaking slot, beginning Thursday, February 16, by calling 703-777-0204.
The public hearings at the government center will be available for viewing on Comcast Government TV Channel 23, Open Band Channel 40, and Verizon FiOS Channel 40. They will also be webcast at www.loudoun.gov/webcast. Members of the public may also: (1) leave a message on the Board of Supervisors’ Comment Line at 703-777-0115; (2) send an e-mail to the Board of Supervisors at email@example.com, or write to the Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 7000, Leesburg, VA 20177; or (3) provide comments through the Loudoun County government’s Facebook and Twitter sites.
More information, including the proposed budget for FY 2018, the County Administrator’s FY 2018 budget presentation and the schedule for Board of Supervisors budget work sessions, may be found on the Loudoun County website at www.loudoun.gov/budget.