Archive for April, 2008

Lower School Budget

April 15, 2008

Steve’s Leesburg Blog

The counties need to reduce spending due to lower tax collections came home to the school board April 1. Lower assessment and reduced state funding has had an impact in many county departments, but none bigger than the school board.

After hours of debate, the Loudoun County School Board adopted a school budget of $745,600,922 about $55 million more than this years and taking into account Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick’s package of $48.7 million in reductions. Harrick’s proposed reductions include reducing pay raises from 6 percent to 3 percent, eliminating 36 new positions for English as a Second Language teachers and assistants and increasing the average class size by one student.

On the plus side, the board voted to provide two more paid holidays for classified, or non-licensed employees and to expand full-day kindergarten services to three more elementary schools. Pricilla B. Godfrey (Blue Ridge) originally had made a motion to introduce full-day Kindergarten to four schools, Aldie, Lincoln, Hillsboro, and Middleburg. Although all four were not approved, three schools does make the statement that the county is serious about full-day kindergarten.

The added three school full-day program is partly funded by the elimination of $160,357 from the budget which was destined for the purchase of interactive whiteboards and the elimination of PDAs intended for physical education instructors.

Steve’s Comments

It’s hard to imagine a county said to be one of the richest in the country does not have sufficient funds to provide adequate raises and for new teachers, plus one more full-day elementary school with resorting to things like taking away PDAs from coaches.


Supervisors Approve Property Tax Increase

April 2, 2008

Steve’s Leesburg Blog
Tax Rate Boost Approved

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors faced with multi-million shortfalls in property taxes for the next several years has taken action to shore up the counties tax revenue stream. The board approved a 19% property tax increase. The increase will add approximately $300 to the average county homeowners tax bill.

The newly seated Democratic majority board narrowly approved a $1 billion budget plan that requires an 18-cent tax increase, raising the rate per $100 to $1.14. The plan works out to about a 6.5% increase for the new budget year starting July 1.

The unexpected drop in assessments across the county is causing a $25 million shortfall this year. The schools expect to enroll 3,000 additional students this fall. The two together drive the higher than normal increase. A major factor with the budget shortfall is the pace of growth. Although growth has slowed some since 2004, the US Census Bureau tagged the county as the fastest growing in the country then. The struggle to keep up by investing in public safety and schools have long been a high priority under both Democratic and the older Republican leadership.

The boards two Republicans and Chairman Scott K. York supported a more modest increase, but were out voted by the Democratic majority. Susan K. Buckley, Sugarland Run Democrat and Vice Chairman proposed a rate of $1.15. Her proposal would have delivered $10 million more to the school system. Even with that extra money, the school budget would have been significantly lower than the requested amount.

Steve’s Comments

This is the kind of news we have all read before, and should expect to see again. The county is and will continue to be a fast growing Washington, DC sleeping suburb. As such, when the economy is thriving all will be well, and when it slows up, budget shortfalls are going to be the staple of the day. The only thing we can actually do anything about is to try our best to pick the best managers available and then support their decisions.

Republican Changes In Loudoun

April 1, 2008

Steve’s Leesburg Blog

A lot has been going on in the Loudoun County Republican Committee since the nearly swept out the door debacle on November 6 of last year. Democrats nearly cleaned out the long time Republican dominance over the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. That election and Democratic victories in other races provided evidence, once a Republican stronghold was now becoming a Democratic enclave.

The Republican Committee elected Glen A. Caroline as Chairman, after he was heard to say “If I was going to lament the status of our Republican Party and its lack of leadership, I decided it was better to step into the breach and put my money where my mouth was.” On March 15, Republicans formally selected Caroline, the only candidate for the post as chairman.

Caroline, a father of two, and community organizer from South Riding rose to chairman on a promise to unite a party with broad base differences on some important issues, mostly dealing with growth and development. In recent years, opponents of strict government controls have led the party, but more recently certain factions envisioning higher taxes and no support for slower growth have left the party. Caroline wants to find a common ground for the two factions, and therefore focus the party on core Republican values such as low taxes, strong national defense and a belief in “the rule of law.”      

The new Caroline message has caused some previously estranged Republicans to return to the fold. Lovettsville resident and former board member H. Dean Settle, a vocal critic of the committee’s previous leadership, and one who left the party rejoined  this spring in the hopes that Caroline will make good on his pledge.

Steve’s Comments:

Although the big sweep is in for now, the powerful factors that brought about the interests problems in the past are still there. For any worthwhile compromises to take place, some members are going to have to yield from there long held positions. The new leader will need the wisdom of a great facilitator to demonstrate any progress in the next one or two years. This is a tough road to hoe. We should all try to help in any way possible. The future of our younger county residents depends on well balanced changes.