Speaking before the Purcellville Business Association on Jan. 10, Mayor Kwasi Fraser said the town was “vibrant and adding value every day.”
In his third year leading Purcellville, Fraser said the town’s net fiscal position increased by nearly $700,000 in the past year and it had exceeded its unassigned general fund balance goals. In that same time frame, the town incurred no new debts and reduced its existing debt to $58 million.
Fraser highlighted approximately $125 million in town assets, and that one of the local government’s biggest goals is to continue to realize value from under performing assets. He said Purcellville has already done so by partnering with a Makerspace lab for an economic development project, and that it is also working on a plan to utilize a vacant, $2.2 million, 189-acre town-owned parcel.
The town is also working on an assessment of its water reclamation plant revenue. Purcellville produces more than half a million gallons of reclaimed water a day that goes back into the local watershed. Fraser said this could be monetized.
Fraser said Purcellville’s AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s and AA rating from both Moody and Fitch affirmed the town’s financial strength.
Fraser said the town added 56 new business and 243 new jobs in fiscal year 2016.
Among concerns are a 9.2 percent business vacancy rate and an outdated town comprehensive plan, which Fraser said is already being addressed. Another concern is the 5 percent meals tax, the highest in Loudoun County, and what that means for business. Fraser said it’s good for the town, as it generates $1.8 million a year in revenue, but that it’s tough on restaurants and could be revisited.
Somewhat isolated from the major growth areas of one of the nation’s most rapidly developing counties, Purcellville nevertheless has felt development pressures going forward. The town’s population has more than quadrupled to nearly 10,000 people in the past 25 years. Fraser said Purcellville’s government isn’t against development, but will seek construction of new buildings “worthy of restoration 50 years from now.”
“I hear a lot of rumors that this council is anti-growth. We’re not anti growth,” Fraser said. “We want to make sure we can grow the right way in an assessed and managed fashion.”