After a month of budget work sessions that aimed to reduce the tax burden on Loudoun County residents, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to adopt a nearly $1.8 billion fiscal 2013 plan that will lower the property tax rate to $1.235 per $100 of assessed value.
The new tax rate represents a 5-cent decrease from the current tax rate of $1.285. In the next fiscal year, Loudoun homeowners can expect to see an average reduction of $200 in their tax bills, based on the current average home value of about $400,000.
Despite the hopes of several supervisors that the board would pass the budget unanimously, Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) remained opposed; the fiscal plan was still too costly, they said.
For Loudoun’s all-Republican, nine-member board – seven of whom were elected to their first term in November – the budget process reflected their campaign promises to focus on fiscal responsibility and economic growth. The supervisors enhanced funding for the county’s economic development initiatives even as they trimmed over $30 million from the fiscal plan initially proposed by County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.
To the dismay of some Loudoun residents, a number of popular programs and organizations did not receive funding – including Loudoun’s Drug Court, the Master Gardeners program, and several nonprofit organizations.
The board began its budget review with even more ambitious cuts in mind: in early March, the supervisors voted to start the process with a proposed tax rate of $1.21 per $100 of assessed value. Attaining that rate would have required about $50 million in cuts to the county budget, and Loudoun’s public school system would have faced a funding gap of $44 million.
The adopted budget still leaves the Loudoun County School Board grappling with a $22 million shortfall, despite the $825 million in county funds that will go toward supporting the school system’s operations – an increase of $58 million over the fiscal 2012 schools budget. Loudoun’s school system, the fastest-growing in the region, will open two new schools and absorb about 2,500 new students this fall.