Fixing Budget a Top Priority for New County Board

By Melissa Arseniuk Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2008

Members of the new Loudoun County Board of Supervisors told local business leaders Monday that their goals for the next four years include drawing more businesses to Loudoun, improving traffic and managing the county budget prudently.

"Obviously, the budget is the number one priority and issue that we'll have to deal with in the next few months," said board Chairman Scott K. York (I) at the breakfast, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne.

York noted that the county has to cover a budget shortfall of more than $200 million.

"It will be quite the balancing act between keeping taxes affordable and funding the services needed by Loudoun residents," said Supervisor Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run).

Supervisor James Burton (I-Blue Ridge) was more direct. "There's no question that taxes will go up," he said. "How much they go up is going to be the center of the debate."

Eric Zicht, of the Paeonian Springs-based engineering, planning and land-surveying company Zicht and Associates, told supervisors that he didn't like the board's emphasis on spending and taxation.

"I am very concerned after listening to certain presentations that I'm considered a sheep," he said. "The emphasis needs to be changed. You people on the board aren't the only ones who provide services to the residents of Loudoun County. We also provide services, and we are also essential to the community for purposes other than being sheared."

Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) said he will work to expand the county's commercial tax base.

"That does not necessarily mean that I'll be seeking to increase the taxes that you individually pay," Miller told the audience of chamber members. "My principal goal . . . is to bring more taxable businesses to Loudoun County."

To help attract businesses, Miller proposed forming an ad hoc committee to "look at businesses that either considered Loudoun but did not choose to come here, or businesses that were here but decided . . . to leave." The committee then would recommend ways to eliminate the factors that led the companies to make those decisions.

Transportation was another topic addressed at the breakfast, with Miller calling for a multifaceted approach to unsnarling traffic on the county's busy thoroughfares.

"I think it would be appropriate for the board to revisit the county transportation plan," Miller said. "The solutions to our transportation problems are going to have to be rather more subtle and complex than just widening roads."

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