The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, which has said it cannot support the 8.2 percent increase in local real estate taxes recommended by County Administrator Philip Bolen to fund his proposed $82.7 million budget for 1985-86, heard county staff suggest alternatives at a workshop session Monday.
According to budget director Kirby Bowers, those options include an increase in the business license tax, a rise in the consumer utility tax or a license tax on the gross receipts of the utility companies that operate in the county.
Under the current taxation rate of $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, the owner of a $93,000 house, the average value of a house in Loudoun County, pays an annual tax of $1,023. If the tax rate were increased to $1.19, the payment would increase by $84 to $1,107.
The proposed budget includes $1.8 million in new programs, $2.4 million in capital projects, $49.7 million for schools, $26.2 million in government expenses and $4.4 million in debt service. The bond referendums approved by voters in November for expansion of the county landfill and library systems will add 4 cents to the tax rate, bringing it up to $1.14, Bolen told the board.
The county needs an additional 5 cents to finance the increasing demand for services needed by Loudoun residents whose numbers, Bolen said, are increasing at the rate of 72 a week.
Polled separately, the supervisors said they cannot, in conscience, approve a tax rate higher than $1.13. Something will have to be cut from the budget, they said, although they preferred not to make suggestions until they read the 285-page document in detail. Workshop sessions will be held every Monday and Thursday this month. Bolen said he expects to have an approved budget in front of the School Board by May 6.
School Superintendent Robert Butt has proposed a $52.9 million budget, 30 percent of which will go for a 10 percent salary increase for teachers. All supervisors except Frank Lambert have said they support a raise in teachers' salaries.
According to Bowers, the state has already approved enabling legislation that will allow the county to impose a tax on utility companies. Loudoun could, under the law, tax one-half of 1 percent of the gross receipts of such utilities as C&P Telephone Co., Virginia Power Co. and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative. This could bring up to $170,000 in new revenue into county coffers annually, Bowers said.
In addition, Bowers said that the county could impose the allowed maximum taxation on the gross receipts of private businesses operating in the county; if they did so, another $500,000 could be realized, bringing that total to $1.2 million a year.
Currently Loudoun imposes a 9 percent tax on the first $30 on a residential utility bill and 9 percent on the first $300 of a commercial user's bill; an additional $1.2 million could be collected if the county opted to impose the state's allowed maximum of 15 percent, Bowers said.
Bolen's budget proposal includes a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for county employes, the hiring of seven new deputies and two criminal investigators in the sheriff's department and a $74,676 contribution to the volunteer rescue and fire companies.
The zoning and planning staff, inundated with a 50 percent increase in zoning applications over last year, this week asked the board to include a $21,000 county planner position in the new budget. In its approval, the board included $9,000 to fund the new position for the remainder of the current fiscal year.