Loudoun County has had its fair share of stormy budget seasons. School and county leaders typically have an annual tug of war over whether taxes should be raised or services should be cut to balance the books in the growing county.
But it seems this budget season will be different.
It’s still too early to know what tax rate the county Board of Supervisors will ultimately adopt and how much they will send over to the public schools. But early signs point to fiscal 2018 being a rare year of revenue growth keeping pace with population growth.
Leigh Burden, the school system’s assistant superintendent of financial services, told the School Board last night that she had just gotten good news from County Administrator Tim Hemstreet. He is drafting his budget based on the equalized tax rate of $1.14, a half cent decrease from the current rate. That will produce nearly enough revenue to cover the budget proposed last week by Superintendent Eric Williams.
Williams’ budget would require $64.5 million more in county funds for the school system next fiscal year. If supervisors adopt the equalized rate, it would fall just $4.8 million short of that request—far less than in any recent year.
At this point in the budget process in previous years, the gap between the schools’ request and available local funds has been as much as $35 million.
Burden said with a smile and a wave of her hands after making the announcement last night, “Jazz hands.”
The School Board will likely make tweaks to Williams’ budget ahead of adopting a final draft Feb. 2. From there, the document is sent as a formal funding request to the Board of Supervisors. Supervisors are scheduled to adopt their budget April 4.