The voice of Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) was heard in Loudoun households this week.
A recording of the freshman county supervisor was sent via automated phone calls asking Loudouners to urge the Board of Supervisors to fully fund the school budget. The call was paid for by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.
Other supervisors have said the county can’t afford the School Board’s full budget request. The School Board has adopted a record 1.07 billion budget, an 8.8 percent—or $86.5 million—increase from the current fiscal year. The budget requires a $58.1 million increase in local tax funding. The current real estate tax rate is $1.135 per $100 of assessed value. County Administrator Tim Hemstreet has told the board it will need to raise the rate to $1.17 to meet the schools’ budget request.
But Umstattd said, because of stable or declining property values in some neighborhoods, many wouldn’t see a big tax hike.
“When I looked at some of the average home prices to see what the impact would be of fully funding the schools, tax bills would be lower than they were two years ago,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “So if you look at what happens over the course of time, it doesn’t look like a hefty tax increase.”
The Loudoun County Republican Committee on Tuesday night issued a statement criticizing the action and specifically targeting Umstattd for going back on campaign promises to hold taxes low.
“It’s unprecedented for a sitting supervisor to record a robocall to Loudoun residents asking them to urge other supervisors for a tax increase,” Sharon Sadler, the LCRC’s first vice chairwoman, stated. “Instead of working in a collaborative manner with her fellow board members, school board members, and county staff, Supervisor Umstattd is instead turning into a mouthpiece for the far-left base of the local Democrat party.”
The LCRC says the school system’s needs can be met without raising taxes.
“Loudoun Republicans unambiguously oppose this proposed tax increase because we believe that Loudoun’s families, retirees, working individuals, and small businesses know better how to spend their hard-earned dollars than does the government,” Sadler stated. “We know that we can fund the needs of our hardworking public school teachers without raising taxes because Loudoun Republicans have accomplished just that. Perhaps Supervisor Umstattd should focus on looking for savings and working with her fellow elected officials, not recording robocalls soliciting higher taxes.”