Budget Raises Tax Rate

* Loudoun County supervisors voted to raise the property tax rate six cents, fueling a sharp-tongued debate between incumbent supervisors and political challengers over who can claim to be the true "fiscal conservatives" in the nation's second-fastest-growing county.

Capping a prickly series of work sessions, supervisors approved a $738.5 million operating budget that fell $12 million short of what school officials requested and raised the tax rate to $1.11 per $100 of assessed value, the same rate the current Board of Supervisors inherited when it took office in 2000.


Medical School in the Works

* Inova Health System was awarded a $5 million challenge grant yesterday to build a health education center in Fairfax County to house Northern Virginia's first medical school. The grant, Inova's largest ever, was given by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, which said its aim is to expand the medical knowledge of Virginia health care professionals and provide training.


Federal Funds Sought for Rail

* Virginia has asked Congress for $600 million to help build Metrorail to Tysons Corner, marking the first time the state has conceded publicly that a full rail line along the rapidly growing Dulles Corridor would have to be built piecemeal.

Submitted last week, the request, which asks only for money to build the rail project's "first segment," heeds warnings from the Bush administration in December that the full $4 billion line to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County was too costly and would carry too few riders to win federal approval. State officials said that they have not determined where the first segment of the project would end but that it would be near Tysons Corner.