Supervisors, School Board Excited by Budget Projections

Supervisors, School Board Excited by Budget Projections

An unexpected revenue increase projection has Loudoun County government officials optimistic as they begin the process of the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget.

Earlier this month, the Commissioner of the Revenue revised initial projections that the county would see as much as a 1 percent decline in revaluation of its portfolio year over year. Instead, the office is projecting a gain of 0.6 percent.

With more than 90 percent of the evaluation complete, this means the estimated equalized real property rate is $1.140, which is $0.005 lower than the current tax rate. That could mean roughly $60 million in new revenue for the school board, assuming the Supervisors continue to approve its typical 66 percent allotment of its budget toward schools.

School superintendent Eric Williams has proposed a 9.1 percent increase to the budget for FY18, which would mean a $93.6 million in additional revenue. That increase comes in part from $64.5 million in funding from the Board of Supervisors. Should Supervisors allocate all $60 million in expected revenue increases toward schools, that in turn would leave only an approximately $4.8 million budget shortfall from Williams’ request.

“This is fantastic news,” said Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) at a joint meeting with the School Board. “This is my sixth budget, and this is by far the smallest gap. Typically it’s been $50 million or $60 million, and we’re talking less than $5 million, so it puts us in a good place.”

Buona also cautioned that pleasant surprise in excess revenue may not all necessarily go directly to the schools. He said Supervisors will need to allocate extra funding for additional county staff for other government services, which he said has not kept pace with the county’s population growth.

Nevertheless, the new reports have government officials in good spirits heading into the lengthy budgeting process. In the coming weeks, Supervisors and county staff will work with school officials to work out a final budget based off Williams’ proposals and will host public hearings on the matter on Jan. 26 and Jan. 31. Adoption of the school’s budget is expected in February. Schools make up the majority of the county’s budget allocations, and the county will also work to fill out funding for the rest of its departments as it finalizes its plan for the coming fiscal year.