Loudoun County's proposed $62.2 million budget for 1983-84 will provide for a 5.6 percent increase in county spending without the need for a tax increase, according to county officials.
County Administrator Philip Bolen, who prepared the balanced budget at the request of the Board of Supervisors and presented it last week, said the increased spending without a rise in taxes is possible because the county staff estimates nearly 700 new households were added to eastern Loudoun this year. The tax revenues they generate will finance the budget increase, he said.
Accordingly, Bolen said, the real estate tax rate should remain at $1.13 per $100 of assessed value.
The Loudoun supervisors, facing reelection this fall, appeared happy with his proposal.
"Everybody in all the jurisdictions around us are singing the blues," Supervisor Frank Raflo (D-Leesburg) said. "But here in Loudoun County, we're doing just fine."
But at least part of the increase will come from a new proposed tax that will hit noncounty residents hardest--a 2 percent tax on hotel and motel rooms.
"The county has been investing money in tourism for years," Bolen said. "This is a chance to recover some of that money."
Tourism is Loudoun County's second strongest industry after agriculture. The new tax is expected to net $153,000 in additional revenues.
Bolen also forwarded the School Board's proposed budget of $38.7 million for operating costs and $3.38 million for paying school system debts. The school budget, up 6.9 percent over this year, calls for a teacher pay raise of 8.5 percent, half of which will be paid with state monies.
By law, in Loudoun County the county administrator cannot alter the School Board's proposed budget. Bolen said the school budget calls for only $1.1 million in new local money, close to the $1 million ceiling the Board of Supervisors advised the School Board to consider.
"When the school budget came in with an increase in local money of only $1.1 million," Raflo said, "I knew we were going to have an easy year."
Supervisor John Milton (D-Catoctin) said he doubted any supervisor would suggest lowering the tax rate this year despite it being an election year, a statement echoed by Raflo and Supervisor Betty Tatum (D-Guildford).
If the supervisors choose to stay with the $1.13 real estate tax rate, Bolen said, a family with a house assessed at $85,000 would pay $961 in real estate taxes. A family with a $60,000 town house would pay $678 in real estate taxes.
The proposed budget does not include any cost-of-living increase for the county's 557 employes but does propose having the county pay the 5 percent employe contribution to the Virginia Supplemental Retirement System.
This change would mean employe salaries would stay at the same level but that take-home pay would increase by 5 percent or more, depending on the employe's federal income tax bracket. Bolen also proposed increasing the standard county employe work week from 35 hours to 37 1/2 hours "to increase employe efficiency," he said.
County employes are not the only beneficiaries in the proposed budget. There is also a recommendation that the salaries of the eight members of the Board of Supervisors be increased, from $6,000 to $9,000 annually, with an additional $1,000 for the board chairman.
The Virginia legislature recently gave local boards the right to set their own salaries but only in an election year so that the raise starts with the next elected board.
In general, Bohlen said, the proposed budget is a conservative, or "flat," one. There is only $1.08 million budgeted for capital improvement projects--among them the purchase of a county garage facility and improvements in library facilities. There is also enough money set aside to fund 5 1/2 new staff positions.
Bolen said the only cuts in service will come with the phasing out of various federal programs. The biggest loss will be in federal funding for seven employment specialists through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which expires in September.
While the newest federal jobs program may include money to replace the CETA funds, Bolen said Congress is still undecided on the funding and the county should not expect anything.
The supervisors will begin public hearings on the proposed budget April 25 and are expected to vote on the budget and tax rate May 2.