Loudoun County taxpayers will see some relief this spring with a fiscal 2019 tax rate of $1.085 per $100 in assessed value – the lowest in about a decade.
But many will still pay more due to rising property assessments since the county’s total taxable real estate increased 6.6 percent from a year ago. Commercial property is up about 6 percent over 2017 and single-family town homes increased by almost 4 percent.
The county Board of Supervisors in early April approved the $2.6 billion budget and new rate, which is a decline from this year’s $1.125 per $100 in value. Some members wanted to see a higher rate to allow more funding to go to Loudoun County Public Schools.
“It doesn’t mean I am happy with the school transfer, but I accept the will of the board,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said. “We had robust discussions and may not always agree where we should land. But that doesn’t mean we all don’t care about the county and care about our kids.”
Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said he had prepared about $1.4 million in further cuts to the county’s budget to allow more school funding. But he didn’t get much support for doing that.
Some two-thirds of the county budget goes to schools, and usually cuts are done so that two-thirds come from schools and one-third from other areas. But this time, a higher percentage of cuts affects the school district, Meyer noted.
“We need to find more creative ways to increase school funding,” Meyer said. Even the reduced county allocation of $797 million to schools is almost a 7 percent jump over last year and the largest increase in per-pupil spending since 2013, he said.
The Virginia General Assembly has yet to pass a state budget and will reconvene April 11 to work on that. That delay complicated local budget processes. While the new tax rate takes effect immediately, the budget changes start July 1. The new rate will result in the average tax bill being $5,071 for fiscal 2019.
Officials usually know how much the state is contributing to Loudoun schools before passing a new budget. “It might not be till mid-May until we know,” Randall said. The board approved a resolution calling for any local increase in state funds to go directly to Loudoun schools, and not another department.
The county budget allows for a 3 percent pay increase for “eligible” employees, with higher merit increases. There will be funding for 123 new full-time positions, mostly for human services, housing and workforce development.
The six-year $2.4 billion Capital Improvement Program calls for $1.3 billion for transportation and $484 million for school projects. New projects include intersection improvements, sidewalks, trails and the widening of Loudoun County Parkway from Ryan Road to Shellhorn Road.
School officials plan to expand full-day kindergarten, upgrade security, purchase new school buses and improve technological infrastructure.