The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is preparing to approve a property tax rate increase as part of its fiscal year 2023 budget, which has yet to be finalized.
Supervisors signaled Monday that they would support a property tax rate of $0.89 per $100 of assessed value, about five cents above the equalized rate of $0.845. At the proposed rate, land shares would represent at least 51.5% of local tax revenue.
While the board has generally lowered the tax rate to the equalized rate every year for the past decade, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said last December that the rate increase helped fund a aggressive capital budget and increase county government and school division operating budgets through growing real estate and personal property portfolios.
The final budget should also establish a tax fund for disposable plastic bags.
Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said that since the start of the budget cycle, the board has been aware of the challenges, including inflation. She reiterated that point on Monday after the board scrapped multiple enhancement requests totaling nearly $6 million.
“We’re trying to accommodate the current growth in the county,” Randall said. “If you’re not funding current levels of civil service, that means you’re going to have less of the military that’s already here.”
The council is also operating under the new tax orientation with the aim of balancing the composition of general fund tax revenues.
Under the new policy, county officials said property tax revenue is expected to approach 60% of total local general fund taxes in coming years, according to a Feb. 9 news release.
For fiscal year 2023, no less than 51.5% of local general fund tax revenue is expected to come from property taxes, they said.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said where the board ended up won’t make anyone happy.
“You have to be logical about how you see it,” Letourneau said, adding that just like the county’s LCPS will have increased operating costs, raises and new positions to fund.
“Of course, I wish we could have lowered the tax rate a bit more, but it was pretty clear from the start because of the separation between commercial and residential, and so many other factors that are there. came in, it was going to be tough to really make much progress on that,” he added. “Individual tax bills are going to vary dramatically from person to person because properties behave so differently and we’re going to have to explain it all.”
Supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) voted against the motion directing staff to prepare the budget for a final vote on April 5. The two disagreed with the credit for Loudoun County Public Schools.
Last month, the school board passed a $1.6 billion budget, which includes a 5% average salary increase for employees, among other new initiatives. The budget represents an increase of 5.9% compared to the current one.
Kershner’s motion to cut the local transfer by about $12 million failed with a 2-7 vote. The board is expected to transfer $53.7 million, a shortfall of $21 million from at the request of schools.
Superintendent Scott Ziegler asked the board to fully fund the passed tax budget and increase county appropriations by $75.2 million for a total appropriation of $1,089,274,768, according to a March 18 memo.
The LCPS request has grown from $49.2 million last December to $75.2 million.
Ziegler wrote that the LCPS could face a shortfall of $14.1 million.
LCPS staff said if the council was able to fully fund demand, the system would be able to absorb whatever the state’s funding scenario, according to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.
“I think we could have funded them significantly and still managed to reduce the tax rate [by] an extra penny or two, which is badly needed right now,” Kershner said.
Buffington added that he supports whatever the board has voted for county operations, but wants to cut $12 million from the county’s transfer to the school system “to fund teacher salary increases and nothing like that.” more”.
SPC has included in its budget investments for SPC employees, including an average salary increase of 5%, according to the Superintendent’s budget. The budget restructures the teacher pay scale to adjust for a market slump in mid-career pay.
In addition, the budget provides one-time, one-time pay increments and payouts for all eligible employees and cost-of-living increases.
Staff costs represent 90% of the budget.
Supervisors agreed that the superintendent’s memo made it difficult to justify the $75.2 million allocation when there was no analysis among state lawmakers on the budget amendments.
Some expressed frustration that no one from the school system was present.
More than a month ago, the two boards came together for an intense budget meeting in which Kershner blamed Ziegler for his administration’s handling of school safety issues, specifically handling two assault cases. .
Ziegler called the attacks on his character, integrity, and the school division “inappropriate” and an “ambush.”
The Supervisory Board must vote on the budget for the 2023 financial year at its administrative meeting on April 5.
The Virginia General Assembly is expected to return to Richmond for a special session on April 4, including to vote on the budget, which will determine how much state funding school systems will receive.