The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has approved a budget totaling approximately $3 billion in total appropriations for the general county government and school system for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The adopted budget includes a real property tax rate of $1.035 per $100 in assessed value, one cent lower than the current tax rate. In adopting the FY 2021 budget, the Board recognized the uncertain financial future the county faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took action to give the county government flexibility in managing the unknown economic impacts.
The Board approved County Administrator Tim Hemstreet’s recommendation that the county plan for a revenue shortfall in FY 2021 of up to $100 million as revenues within the FY 2021 budget were constructed on assumptions of economic growth that are unlikely to be fully realized due to COVID-19. $100 million in planned FY 2021 expenditures will be placed into a reserve that will be split between the general county government and Loudoun County Public Schools, with $40 million designated for county government expenditures and $60 million for LCPS. These funds will be held in reserve until released by the Board, if revenues materialize to support these expenditures. When including the $60 million of reserved LCPS expenditures, the FY 2021 fully funds the School Board’s February 4, 2020, adopted budget request.
For the $40 million in county government-reserved expenditures, this freeze includes most new expenditures in the FY 2021 budget, including: the 3.5% merit increase for eligible county employees and step increase for public safety employees; operating and maintenance adjustments; and new departmental resource requests for capital facility openings and departmental priorities.
Hemstreet also is taking action to limit expenditures in the remaining months of FY 2020, which ends June 30, 2020. This includes instituting a hiring freeze for vacant positions and directing departments to limit all non-essential operating and maintenance expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year.
Capital Improvement Program
The Board also adopted the Amended FY 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that totals $2.9 billion for the six-year planning period and includes county and school projects. Transportation projects account for the largest expenditure percentage at 40 percent. They include widening a portion of eastbound Route 7 between Loudoun County Parkway and Route 28 and an intersection improvement on Shellhorn Road. Other new projects include the Broad Run Farms waterline extension, planning for a linear parks and trails system and critical technology infrastructure projects for the county government. School projects account for 27 percent of the CIP, which incorporates the School Board’s adopted capital plan and accommodates all school projects.
In adopting the budget, the Board also temporarily paused new capital projects that include debt financing until conditions improve for the county to enter the municipal debt market.
The FY 2021 budget will go into effect July 1, 2020, while the new tax rates are effective as of January 1, 2020, and will be used for the spring tax collection. More information about the budget process is online at loudoun.gov/budget.
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