Hemstreet Proposes Equalized Tax Rate in New Budget

Hemstreet Proposes Equalized Tax Rate in New Budget

Loudoun County is positioned to increase services without a tax increase in the FY 2018 budget proposed by County Administrator Tim Hemstreet and presented to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 15.

The $2.5 billion proposed budget includes funding for the equivalent of 189 full-time positions in a range of departments, including the new Dulles South Multipurpose Center, Kirkpatrick Farms Fire and Rescue Station, Brambleton Library and Ashburn Sheriff’s Station. It also includes increased resources for domestic violence prevention, child protective services and substance abuse, a request strongly advocated for by Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).

The budget also provides an additional $61 million more than in FY17 for Loudoun County Public Schools and comes within $3.5 million, or less than one percent, of financing the entirety of the School Board’s adopted budget and funding request.

With the increased funding, the average property tax bill will stay around $5,000 for Loudoun homeowners.

Hemstreet’s presentation kicks off the annual budget season, with supervisors expected to approve the new budget in April after a series of meetings and public hearings. The 2018 budget goes into effect July 1, 2017.

The budget is based on an equalized real property tax rate of $1.135, one penny lower than the current rate. The county’s economic situation was stronger than expected last year, according to county budget documents. Buoyed by increased federal spending, Loudoun should expect to see significant further job growth and economic development.

Property values have continued to rise, and a single family home has gone from $436,400 in 2015 to $454,700 in 2017.  The county’s real property portfolio has now surpassed $76 billion.

Personal property has also grown, now up to $8.5 billion in 2018 estimate compared to 6.4 in 2015. That’s in large part due to computers.

A major change in the proposed budget is the reallocation of the approximately $7 million a year in local gas taxes from county transit operations to instead support the Loudoun’s obligation to fund the coming Metrorail service beginning in FY 2019. County transit will now be funded as part of the base budget.

More than $2 billion has been allocated for the six-year Capital Improvement Program planning period, which funds long-term construction projects. About 39 percent of the CIP budget goes to transportation projects like roads, and another 32 percent is allocated for schools. LCPS projects include four new elementary schools, one new middle school, two new high schools and classroom additions to bring full day kindergarten countywide.