We Think: County Board Stewardship

We Think: County Board Stewardship

March 22, 2017.

Loudoun County’s annual budgeting process has never been without controversy, but this year’s has been the most exceptional in memory for things done right.

It helps when the local economy is sound and tax revenue is up, but that doesn’t diminish what we believe was the crafting of a fiscally responsible FY 2018 budget that advances the quality of life for residents of Loudoun County.

That’s what the Board of Supervisors has done.

We commend them for this week’s announcement — on a vote of 6-3 — of what the new budget will look like. It includes significant increases for public education, sustaining core government programs and services, and passing the largest tax cut in memory.

That’s stewardship, and even the three Democrats who voted nay ought to acknowledge the significance of the achievement.

We shouldn’t expect unanimity from our elected representatives, but we should expect common sense, comity and collaboration. That’s what we’re seeing this year as the board approaches the date of its final vote on the new budget and tax rate.

We summarized the board’s actions in an article published yesterday, and a couple of key points deserve repeating.

The board wants to cut the real property tax rate by two cents, from $1.145 to $1.125, a penny more than was needed to achieve tax equalization, more or less. That’s a real tax cut; no smoke and mirrors.

The board wants to transfer to LCPS an amount that is nearly everything it asked for, with a $5.5 million gap that is the smallest in years. That’s a dramatic 8.5 percent increase in the county’s contribution to public school funding, and more that double the rate of increased enrollment.

All this should serve as a reminder that an unswerving commitment to robust, sustainable economic development is what makes more good things possible.

Without it, we’re back to picking winners and losers, and governance is much tougher.