Loudoun Board Opposes City of Leesburg

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Thursday voted to oppose a bill working its way through the General Assembly that would allow towns with more than 40,000 residents—like Leesburg—to become cities.

Del. J. Randall Minchew’s (R-10) House Bill 192 would provide an exemption to a long-standing moratorium on new city charters in Virginia. Such charters are uniquely impactful, because Virginia cities are county-equivalent—in other words, the City of Leesburg would not technically be in Loudoun, but would be a separate municipality. Its residents and businesses would no longer pay county taxes or be eligible to use its services.

Minchew has said he filed the bill to free the Leesburg Town Council to study the possibility, and that the council couldn’t justify the study if there was no possibility of a city charter. There is currently no formal push for a city charter and there are mixed feelings among town leaders about the idea.

Former Leesburg mayor Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) was the bill’s sole champion on the Board of Supervisors.

“They [the Leesburg Town Council] are aware that a number of cities across the Commonwealth offer full city services to their citizens at a lower property tax rate than is currently paid by folks who live in towns and have to pay two levels of tax,” Umstattd said. “That’s the motivation for this request from Leesburg.”

Other supervisors opposed the idea, suggesting they would explore deals with the town to bring taxes down, or even have Leesburg unincorporate to do away with town taxes entirely.

“I’m tempted to join Supervisor Umstattd, just from the perspective of it would greatly increase the chances of moving our government facilities to Ashburn,” said Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run). “So if Leesburg wants to go down this road, hey, be my guest, but know the consequences.”

The board voted 7-1-1 to oppose HB 192 as part of the its legislative agenda, with Umstattd opposed and Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) absent.



5 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Opposes City of Leesburg

  • 2016-01-22 at 4:01 pm

    Dear Kristen — Welcome to the Anti-Leesburg Club on the Eastern-dominated Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. I predict you will be on the losing end of a lot of votes related to Leesburg, just as I was, although you feel not being “combative” will help you. But the Council doesn’t need the 2018 moratorium lifted just to seriously study whether Leesburg should divorce itself from the county and become a city. They just need some leadership to complete the study TishlerBise did for you in 2013, which you all dropped without just inquiring what the operating and debt expense would be to take over the schools. Instead, the Council is (for the 30th time) discussing “annexation goals” this coming week. Why should the Supervisors support that when NOT ONE SINGLE property owner in the annexation study area (south of town) wants to be annexed and when you had Morven Park willingly wanting to come into the town you all killed it? So, asking for this legislation in Richmond and studying annexation is ill-timed. This 8-1 vote by the Board assures Minchew’s bill will be killed. What you and your former colleagues on the Council should be doing is moving heaven and earth to ensure you have the votes to keep the courts and government center in Leesburg, but I guess it’s too hard to call your BAR and Planning Commission political appointees to help make that happen.

  • 2016-01-22 at 4:54 pm

    Interesting how the Republic’s come out and say no way, we won’t help the citizens to cut taxes. Or oh Leesburg can unincorporated and become fully under the county. Additionally, if the town of Leesburg’s does go ahead and gets a city status we will bully them some more.

    This action by the BOS shows how a group of people are trying to use politics to drive 50,000 citizens of a the county and town to a destiny that the BOS wants. The BOS will push for their will only. They will try anything to get the county buildings and courts out of Leesburg. What is funny, the county currently does nothing for the town and the town has more services than the county, for the town citizens. When sitting at a Town meeting and hear a BOS member say to the Town Council, you better play ball with the County or we will move out, is a threat. It is also saying that the BOS of the County don’t care about what anyone else thinks or how the citizens of this county want to see benefits to the taxes they pay. Ok, well lets look at the current tax issues that a Town Resident has and is paying towards the county with no benefit to them.
    Lets list some basic’s that the county doesn’t do for the town. First Town Residents pay Town Tax, and County tax. In the town we get our own police department, which is great, for we get Police assistance within the national guidelines set for towns and cities of about 4 to 7 minutes. In the county, the Sheriffs office takes up to 20 minutes in some places of the county. So as part of the County tax we Leesburg Citizens pay for the sheriff, and for all of the county – does the Sheriff provide cars to patrol our town – No, do they provide dedicated cars and officers to the town – NO. So, how about some of that tax money back to cover our police. Now lets look at the Parks. Leesburg has a parks and recreation department and has our own parks, funded by our town tax, for the county again doesn’t pay for our town parks. Again, we pay county taxes for parks, how about some tax money back from that. Now lets look at the Department of Public Works and Roads. Leesburg takes care of its roads. In the county the State VDOT deals with most roads and the county really doesn’t care to deal with roads, except those in the east that are connected to so called economical development. Town of Leesburg takes care of the trash for the town, what does the county do? Nothing. The town picks up brush and yard waste to help our citizens, what does the county do? Nothing. But we all pay for that also. The town has its own buses and transportation services, and we still pay taxes to the county for that also. So how about some tax money back for that too. The town has its own economic development, but the county doesn’t provide the Town anything for that, How about returning the taxes for that. The town has its own Water and Sanitary sewer system, but we pay taxes to the county that goes to water and sewer infrastructure in the county. How about giving some taxes back from that. The Town has a Municipal Airport, but the county would love to own it to take the benefits for the county, but they don’t help there either. Other areas that are very interesting is the cost to the town for Emergency Management the Police Department does it, and we pay for that in county taxes, another area we could use a return of tax money. As for the Fire Rescue, it is a County system, and the County doesn’t fully fund the volunteers that cover Leesburg. The Town provides over $600,000 a year, but we all pay the county tax that covers this. How about a return om that.
    It is evident that the Town of Leesburg, provides more services that the Town residents request and require. It is also evident that the County doesn’t provide specific services to the Town, but the people of the Town are paying taxes that cover these services for the rest of the county. There is an imperative to this process, and that is a City process would be cheaper and cost savings for the citizens of the Town to a City. It is also evident that the County BOS is scared, because they haven’t done a real analysis on this topic, they have acted on fear that the will lose a big part of their budget, and a cash cow to the county. I found a quote from a BOS member who said anyone can see the town can’t do this for cheaper as a city and can figure this on the back of a napkin. Very disrespectful comment, for this BOS member hasn’t looked at Fairfax City, Manassas City, Winchester City. They all have cheaper taxes for their citizens and provide more services than the counties they sit in. Maybe the BOS should stop and do real studies before making statements and actions to stop a legislative process. Additionally, why would an elected body at the BOS level who is predominately Republican Conservative, try to stop citizens from being taxed less? Why? because they want power, they want it their way, they are scared and know that they lost 3 seats to Democrats and there will most likely be more in the future, but not necessarily democrats, but non-mainstream politicians. I would suggest that the BOS work with the Town and Delegate Minchew to get the bill through, then provide a factual analysis for or against this City process,, not just jump and say we are against it. Also, BOS members and County Government staff, stop bullying the Town Governments in this county, you are showing that they can’t govern with integrity and on the citizens benefit. It maybe time for politicians and public administration to realize and re-evaluate what their jobs are really for – the people, and Yes the Town of Leesburg Citizens are the people too, even though we are your cash cow.

  • 2016-01-22 at 5:31 pm

    “Former Leesburg mayor Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) was the bill’s sole champion on the Board of Supervisors.”

    Ms. Umstattd’s desire to convert Leesburg to a city should have been stated BEFORE the election. It is now obvious that this has been brewing. This would have been THE issue for Leesburg voters to consider. She apparently didn’t want that scrutiny.

  • 2016-01-23 at 8:55 am

    It should be noted that two Democrats — Saines and Randall — opposed this bill, too, so let’s not just blame the Republicans on the Board. Secondly, Kristen has always said she would support Leesburg becoming a city IF it can be proven it will save the town taxpayers, but that was not an issue in her campaign, so let’s not accuse her of lying to voters. However, in her 22 years on the Council she never initiated any discussion of city status until that 2013 study came along, and then, none of them ever followed up on it, but asked Del Minchew to get Richmond to lift the 2018 moratorum. The timing of this bill and discussion — especially with the courts expansion hanging on a threat — was really bad execution And, given how long it takes to become a city, there was no need to ask for the legislation in order to get more numbers.

  • 2016-01-23 at 5:04 pm

    @dpsemsed1 You forgot the 800lb gorilla—schools. Leesburg residents pay 0% extra for them and they account for almost 70% of the County budget. Having a police department is Leesburg’s choice. They can drop it and have the County cover it. Leesburg taxes cover trash. Don’t underestimate how much that costs on the commercial market. Leesburg “buys in bulk” and covers that for residents. You get to deduct Leesburg taxes on your taxes, something you can’t do with an HOA fee that covers trash collection for non-residents.

    Umstattd certainly should have mentioned pushing city-hood status during the election. Leesburg residents should have been informed that she wants to explore forcing them out of Loudoun County.

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