Loudoun supervisors lower taxes, put capital projects on hold as coronavirus impacts county

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved a $3 billion budget for next year that reduced the Virginia county’s tax rate by a penny — and put on hold all capital projects that have to be financed.

The moves come as the supervisors recognize the financial uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The county put $100 million in reserve funding, at the recommendation of Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, to handle the unknown impact coronavirus will have on the Virginia county’s economy and tax base.

The $100 million reserve would be split between county government services and the school system — $40 million for county government spending and $60 million for Loudoun County Public Schools.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors would release the reserve if revenue to support spending does not materialize.

Real estate taxes, which pay for the bulk of the county budget, will be $1.035 per $100 of assessed value. While the tax rate has lowered, that does not mean homeowners will be paying less in taxes. Assessments determine how much will be paid.

But other sources of revenue, such as sales and use taxes, are expected to drop because of the pandemic.

The 3.5% merit raise for eligible county employees, along with a step increase for public safety employees, are among the spending that would be cut in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

Other spending, such as operating and maintenance adjustments and various facility and departmental costs would be frozen.

Hemstreet said he is also limiting expenditures in the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The county will have a hiring freeze and county departments will limit nonessential spending.

Capital projects that involve debt financing have been put on hold as Loudoun County waits for the municipal debt market to improve.

The supervisors adopted an amended $2.9 billion, six-year Capital Improvement Program for the county and schools, 40% of which will go toward transportation projects.

Projects to be funded include the following:

  • Widening a part of eastbound Virginia Route 7 between Loudoun County Parkway and Route 28;
  • Intersection improvements on Shellhorn Road;
  • Extending the Broad Run Farms waterline;
  • Planning for a linear parks and trails system;
  • Critical technology infrastructure projects for the county government.

The new budget goes into effect on July 1, 2020, while the new tax rates are effective as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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