Leesburg Town Council members will begin the fiscal year 2017 budget process next week, with a budget presentation by Town Manager Kaj Dentler eyed for Feb. 23.
Although the official unveiling of the spending plan has not yet occurred, council members and members of the town’s Planning Commission have gotten an initial glimpse at the town’s financial picture, as well as a preview of proposed changes to the Capital Improvements Program, in recent weeks.
The Planning Commission kicked off its review of the CIP—a road map for the town’s capital priorities—earlier this month, and was expected to put together its final recommendations on the fiscal year 2017 program at its Feb. 18 meeting, after this paper’s deadline.
The draft CIP includes 37 projects. By comparison in fiscal year 2000, the CIP had 130 projects. This year’s draft includes several new projects, most notably a splash pad at Mervin Jackson Park next to Town Hall; as well as budget increases on some of the projects already in the books.
Increases are eyed for the renovations to the skate park off Catoctin Circle; an expansion in improvements to the town’s traffic management system; and several road projects hit by an increase in VDOT’s construction costs. The skate park project also is looking at a delay of six months because of a change in the location. The phase two South King Street road widening project will be re-bid in hopes of finding lower construction pricing.
David Rose, the town’s financial consultant, has given the town a thumbs-up when it comes to its fiscal policy. Rose updated the council last week on where the town stands in terms of its fiscal prudence.
Last year, the town was given a AAA rating by all three rating agencies for the first time in its history. The council last year also amended town policy to increase savings to its rainy day fund from 15 percent to 20 percent for the ensuing five years. Rose said the town’s financial picture is playing out exactly as predicted and, if current policy is followed, the town will remain in a strong fiscal position for years to come.
“We’re stronger today than we were 20 years ago,” Rose said.
With the budget presentation pegged for next week, the council is expected to schedule several budget work sessions, possibly to coincide with their regularly scheduled bimonthly work sessions. Budget and tax rate adoption is eyed for early April.