County Administrator Tim Hemstreet has presented a proposed budget for the Loudoun County government to the Board of Supervisors for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), which begins July 1, 2020. The budget totals $3.024 billion in appropriations for the county government and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS).
The proposed budget has been prepared at a real property tax rate of $1.035 per $100 of assessed value, one cent below the current real property tax rate of $1.045 per $100 of assessed value. Although the Board of Supervisors’ guidance to the County Administrator was to prepare a budget at the current real property tax rate, Hemstreet said “positive shifts” in the revenue picture that occurred after the Board’s final guidance and a lower-than-anticipated budget request from LCPS prompted him to prepare a budget at a lower tax rate that is in keeping “with the spirit of the Board’s guidance.”
“Prepared at the tax rate of $1.035, I believe that the proposed budget not only meets the needs of our organization and our community, it is also responsible, executable and sustainable,” Hemstreet said.
The priorities for the FY 2021 proposed budget include employee pay, opening new facilities, supporting the county’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the Board’s strategic priorities and providing resources to departments to support their top priorities. Hemstreet noted that the county’s population continues to grow at a rate of about 11,000 additional residents every year, which brings new and increased demands on county programs and services.
The FY 2021 proposed budget includes:
- $12.9 million in base budget adjustments to continue to provide current services, including increases in contracts and ongoing maintenance agreements, lease and utility increases and inflationary impacts.
- $37.2 million in total for employee compensation, which consists of:
- $12.2 million to provide a market-competitive 3.5% pay increase for general workforce employees and public safety step increases, continuing the county’s merit and step compensation program; and
- $25 million to cover the annualized cost of the implementation of the new classification and compensation system.
- The addition of 150 positions in 25 different departments to maintain or enhance current service levels, open new facilities, support the county’s CIP and position the organization to pursue the Board’s strategic priorities.
- An increase of more than $75 million to fund all but $2.5 million of the LCPS budget request.
Factors Shaping the Proposed Budget
The proposed FY 2021 budget was developed in a favorable economic climate similar to that of FY 2020; however, Hemstreet said several “unique circumstances” influenced this year’s budget development, including:
- The full implementation of the county’s new classification and compensation system, which results in a larger impact on the base budget for compensation increases, compared with recent years.
- Increased funding for the CIP and debt service. An additional $49.3 million over the previous fiscal year is included in the proposed budget to fulfill county debt and capital obligations, which is higher than previous years.
- Onboarding of addition positions. The creation of a significant number of new positions over the past few years has created pressure on internal service agencies to process those employees as well as work space challenges.
The FY 2021 proposed budget also includes $15 million in local gasoline tax funding for Loudoun County’s contribution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and for the operational and capital payments due to the anticipated start of Metrorail’s Silver Line revenue service in Loudoun County during FY 2021.
Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
The Amended FY 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which includes both county and school projects, totals $2.9 billion for the six-year planning period. The category with the largest expenditure percentage is transportation projects at 40%. Some of the new transportation projects 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 projects: the Broad Run Farms Waterline Extension and planning for a linear parks and trails system, as well as critical technology infrastructure projects for the county government. School projects account for 27% of the proposed CIP, which fully incorporates the School Board’s adopted capital plan and accommodates all school projects.
Tax Rates Summary
The proposed budget is balanced at the property tax rate of $1.035. Hemstreet also provided the Board with two additional tax rate scenarios for their consideration: one at one cent below and one at one cent above the proposed budget rate.
Hemstreet has advertised a real property tax rate of $1.045, which provides the Board with flexibility to fully fund the LCPS budget request and consider additional county government priorities.
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 2021 budget expected at the Board’s business meeting April 7, 2020.
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 2021 budget. The hearings are scheduled for:
- Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 3:00 p.m. - Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street SE, Leesburg
- Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 6:00 p.m. - Board Room, Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street SE, Leesburg
- Saturday, February 29, 2020, 9:00 a.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 13, 2020, by calling 703-777-0204.
The two 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 loudoun.gov/webcast.
Members of the public may also:
For More Information
More information, including the FY 2021 proposed budget, the County Administrator’s FY 2021 budget presentation, the schedule for Board of Supervisors budget work sessions and the Board’s Finance/Government Operations and Economic Development Committee’s CIP work sessions, is posted on the Loudoun County website at loudoun.gov/budget.
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