Editor: I appreciated reading George Bardsley’s perspective on economic development in Loudoun in last week’s edition of Loudoun Now.
But I must respectfully disagree with his premise regarding economic growth in Loudoun.
Mr. Bardsley begins with a common mistake: conflating Loudoun’s high household income with the generation of local tax revenues.
The fact is Loudoun County derives relatively little benefit from the income taxes paid by our residents and businesses. Those taxes go to Richmond and Washington, DC, while Loudoun receives only a small fraction back in state and local aid. Local property taxpayers foot most of the bill for schools, public safety and other county services.
The only way to solve the issues of overcrowded schools and road—concerns I share with Mr. Bardsley—is to continue to build Loudoun’s commercial tax base. Thanks to the Board of Supervisors wise investments in economic development, the commercial tax base now comprises 30 percent of all property taxes, more than double what it was a few years ago.
What has that meant for the average Loudoun resident? For one thing, their tax bills are much lower than they otherwise would have been.
A stronger business tax base also has allowed Loudoun to invest in vital quality of life enhancements that have made a meaningful difference in the lives of our families and neighbors. These include:
- Expansion of full-day kindergarten to nearly the entire County;
- The development of the Academies of Loudoun, a science and technology campus that will prepare our children for the economy of tomorrow;
- Transportation Improvements along Loudoun’s busiest roads, including Rt. 7, Loudoun County Parkway and Belmont Ridge Road.
Other areas include investments in public safety and in nonprofit charitable giving. Though Loudoun, as a whole, struggles to meet the charitable donation level of our peer counties, our businesses are making generous contributions to scores of local nonprofits that are serving the neediest amongst us.
While Mr. Bardsley fears the encroachment of development on Loudoun’s rural areas, county policy has helped ensure against that outcome. The best strategy for preserving our rural areas is to enable our farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses to thrive, so they can afford to keep their property in agricultural use.
Loudoun County is recognized as world-class community for being the healthiest, safest and happiest county of its size, to earning distinction for excellence for industries ranging from farming to data centers. None of this excellence would be possible without a strong business climate. That’s the reason why all of us are proud to call Loudoun home.
Tony Howard, President & CEO
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce