How Much Is Enough?

A few members of the Board of Supervisors (aka The Builder Board) have some very serious thinking to do as they decide the fate of the Loudoun County taxpayer.

The Comprehensive Plan thrown out by the courts would have saved taxpayers from having to build and pay for an additional 140 schools for the 208,000 homes removed from the general plan. With the average cost of a school cluster (five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school) at $140 million (without inflation), the previous plan, by eliminating 20 school clusters, reduced Loudoun's future school construction requirements by $2.8 billion.

These results [in the earlier plan] also reduced the county's needs for roads, highways and infrastructure.

With some of the current plans on the table, every 20,000 homes to be added to the Comprehensive Plan would cost taxpayers at least $280 million in schools alone!

How else would these additional homes cost the taxpayers? From 1999 to 2003, school expenditures increased from $6,890 to $9,366 per student annually.

Also, as Loudoun County grows, so do the services requirements. Fire-rescue personnel has gone from 132 to 254 employees, the Sheriff's Office from 321 to 444 employees and the commonwealth attorney's office from 24 to 32 employees.

The taxpayers pay 70 percent of the school budget, and over the last three years full-time equivalent county employees per capita have gone down while the demand for services continues to increase. Plus, the taxpayer of Loudoun sends $1 to Richmond and 19 cents are returned. Five years ago this was more than 30 cents per $1.

Additional service costs, parks, recreational and library facilities plus fire and safety would add up to an additional $100 million. Total cost per 20,000 homes: $340 million. And this is just construction cost. Then add the cost of hiring teachers, patrol officers, staff, etc., and this does not include the cost of roads!

Under this Board of Supervisors majority, more than 14,000 additional homes have been approved, above what the Comprehensive Plan allowed, in less than 18 months. The previous Board of Supervisors added 12,000 homes over four years.

Many of the new supervisors claimed while campaigning that this was unacceptable, and now these same individuals will decide the fates of the people who have recently moved here and longtime residents who have seen their taxes increase an average of 20 percent a year for the last two years.

The supervisors must look we Loudoun taxpayer-voters straight in the eye and tell us how much the increased density will cost . . . the taxpayers of Loudoun, then justify their vote to give the builders more homes and profits while the people of Loudoun are stuck with the bills.

George Hidy