The Town Council last week signed off on a Memorandum of Agreement that hands over billing and collection responsibilities to Loudoun County, if such an arrangement is authorized by the General Assembly next year.
The agreement means that town taxpayers will receive a consolidated bill for real estate taxes, personal property taxes, vehicle registration fees, and business tangible personal property taxes. Loudoun County will forward taxes collected for the town less a 1.15 percent collection. The town’s expected contribution to the county’s systems development as part of this change is just under $100,000.
According to Clark Case, director of Finance and Administrative Services for the town, the process whereby the town bills its residents is “very inefficient, expensive and error prone.” Currently, the town relies on several outside vendors to collect and reformat tax information from the county, bill residents, and submit payment back to the town. The new process would be streamlined and less risky, Case said. In addition to the consolidated bill, one change town residents will notice is they will be billed twice a year for personal property taxes, to align with the county’s practice. Currently, the town bills personal property taxes in a lump sum in June. The consolidation of real estate taxes is targeted for implementation in tax year 2019, with the remaining taxes being consolidated in tax year 2020.
Councilman Tom Dunn was the lone dissenting vote on the matter.
“It still seems to be too many questions to buy into it,” he said. “I don’t see the savings to be enough to warrant what may be the limitations that have been placed upon us.”
According to Case, the town will realize a first-year savings around $164,000, and second-year savings near $258,000.
“We’re only putting $100,000 at risk,” he said in addressing the council last week. “You’re looking at a return on investment of 164 percent off our first-year investment. You’re talking about a very high ROI for taking this risk. The private sector would jump at this.”
In addition to Leesburg, the towns of Middleburg, Lovettsville, Round Hill, and Hillsboro have indicated an interest in pursuing similar framework with the county. Purcellville and Hamilton have elected not to participate.