Loudoun Supervisors’ district offices, except Ashburn, will get a $30,000 budget boost each, or $240,000 total.
Supervisors voted 6-3 to send unallocated money from the county budget to their district offices, the source of funding for supervisors’ individual projects, communications, and most importantly staff aides, who work and serve constituents in supervisors’ stead while elected officials are at their day jobs. After a motion by Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), insurance costs for up to three staff members in each office will also come from the county budget instead of individual district budgets.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) drove the motion to increase district budgets, which he said is necessary—particularly in quickly growing districts like Dulles—to maintain an adequate level of constituent service and oversight of construction projects.
Currently, district offices receive $120,597 annually, while the county chairwoman’s office receives $161,040. Those budgets are essentially separate from the county budget, including county employee raises. Letourneau said the funding levels are well below other large counties.
“We all know how hard our board aides work, and it has become evident during the time that I’ve been on the board that, at least in some districts have seen significant population increase; the workload has exceeded the budget that we actually have to fund our staff,” Letourneau said.
Some supervisors disagreed. Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said he has returned money to the county from his budget every year in office so far.
“I think with proper management, you can manage things and not spend your whole budget,” Buona said. He also pointed out that although the budget increase comes out of unallocated money in the budget this year, from now on, the higher allocations will be programmed into county budget expenses.
He asked the board to amend the budget increase to exclude his Ashburn District office, reducing the $270,000 package by $30,000. He also said he would vote against the increase whether or not Ashburn was cut out.
Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) also opposed the budget increase.
“I look at $270,000 and I think, there are other things of value that we could use that money for,” Umstattd said. “The schools, mental health. But I don’t want to criticize my colleagues on this, because I understand they truly feel strapped.”
Other supervisors said their offices need more help for a variety of reasons. Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said the lack of homeowners associations means more work district staff in his rural western county. Conversely, Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said his district, with more new businesses and development applications than any other district, struggles to keep up.
Supervisors approved the budget increase 6-3, with Buona, Umstattd, and Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) opposed. Letourneau said he’s sure some supervisors will still be returning some of that money.
“At least now we’ll have a little bit of room to perhaps increase the hours for some of our aides and get a little more out of them,” Letourneau said.
See related article: Loudoun Supervisors May Boost District Office Budgets