The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce kicked off its 2016 PolicyMaker Series on Thursday with a breakfast featuring eight of Loudoun’s Supervisors.
Supervisors took the opportunity to preview some of their priorities for the next four years. Some themes were nearly universal: Supervisors discussed an impending comprehensive plan review and a bill in the general assembly that limits proffer agreements. But supervisors promised their board would have results on the ground—literally.
“You’re going to see more dirt flying in the next 18 months than in the last 20 years,” said Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). Buona transportation projects are on the front burner again.
“For the first time in decades, the number one item in the capital budget is not schools. It’s transportation,” Buona said.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), chairman of the board’s finance committee, talked about Loudoun’s growing economy and the challenge of shaping the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
“It’s a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but all the pieces don’t fit,” Letourneau said. He also said that despite a lot bad news for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which administer Metrorail, there is an opportunity now for “cultural change” at the organization.
Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian), who chairs the Transportation and Land Use Committee, announced that the team that begins the process of reviewing the comprehensive plan will feature members appointed by each supervisor to ensure each district is represented.
Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) talked about economic development and protecting “arguably one of the best school systems not just in the state, but in the country” but also asked the board to show “fiscal restraint,” which he said could be balanced by attracting more businesses.
“Many of them are fleeing from high tax states, high tax areas, and they’re coming here for that reason, so we don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” Higgins said.
Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) celebrated the most diverse and “the best board who’s ever taken the seat on the dais.” She also mentioned the board’s unanimously-adopted ethics pledge, which she said had drawn admiration from local officials in other counties, and said the county should do more for nonprofits.
“When we think about how much money our nonprofits save our county every year, we have been sorely underfunding our nonprofits,” Randall said.
Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) agreed that the county should give more to nonprofits, and said full-day kindergarten likely is not in this year’s budget.
Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) reminded the community that Sterling still lacks for sidewalks and other basic conveniences.
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said the board should keep an eye on the big picture while working on the budget, which he said means transportation and economic development. He and Letourneau also defended data centers in Loudoun, although they said some data centers could be better located.
“What I always tell people, is close your eyes and just imagine that they’re printing money for our roads and schools, because that’s exactly what they’re doing,” Meyer said.