Although deliberations over the fiscal year 2019 Leesburg budget won’t kick off in earnest until late February, Town Council members were treated Monday night to a quarterly update on where things stand.
Clark Case, director of Finance and Administrative Services, and Budget Officer Jason Cournoyer offered council members a glimpse at the tight budget for the town’s capital projects. The town must maintain a conservative approach to spending and saving to avoid a tax rate hike next year. That means many of the items on town departments’ wish lists for repair or replacement may linger.
The town has adopted a policy of funding $1.3 million for the Capital Asset Replacement Fund each fiscal year, Cournoyer said. But town departments’ requests total more than $2 million, leaving much unfunded for both fiscal years 2018 and 2019. This means aging town equipment, from playgrounds to vehicles to mowers and more, must wait longer on the list.
The same thinking remains true for the town’s capital projects. While major construction projects are budgeted for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, the chances of adding to that list remains bleak. Some of these priority projects still awaiting funding are the renovation and expansion of the police department headquarters, expansion and refurbishment of the public works’ town shop, and improvements to the Catoctin Circle/Edwards Ferry Road intersection.
The Utilities Fund is in a bit of a better position, however. The water and sewer fees collected by the town in the enterprise fund have been sufficient to fully cover planned repairs, renovations and replacements during both fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
One unknown is the full price tag for the emergency repairs undertaken by the town to repair a Jared Square parking lot in the Exeter neighborhood earlier this month. Originally thought to be a sinkhole, it was later determined that the sunken ground was caused by soil settlement over time, precipitated by heavy rains. The property is owned by the Exeter HOA property, which will be responsible for the majority of costs, minus the cost of town utility repairs. The Town Council was expected to vote on a Memorandum of Agreement between the town and the Exeter HOA Tuesday night, whereby the town will front the money for the full cost of the repairs and be reimbursed by the Exeter HOA.