A majority of the Leesburg Town Council again is pushing for the postponement of a decision. This time it’s the adoption of the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Monday night’s Town Council work session was to serve as the next opportunity for council members to scrutinize the budget proposed by Town Manager Kaj Dentler. Leesburg operates under a two-year budget cycle and the spending plan for fiscal year 2017 was approved last year. This year’s review is designed to identify any changes needed to that plan. During his initial budget presentation in February, Dentler highlighted items such as projects that had cost increases, requested budget additions, project delays, and new funding sources.
During the work session, council members were expected to offer their ideas for any changes they would make. But a majority of council members said they were not yet prepared for straw votes on additions or deletions to the budget, prompting Mayor David Butler to suggest that the council postpone votes on both the proposed real estate tax rate and the adoption of the budget by two weeks. Initial adoption of both was eyed for meetings the week of April 11.
In addition to Butler, council members Bruce Gemmill, Tom Dunn and Kelly Burk said they were in favor of the delay, although not all council members were polled when it was clear there were four votes to support the delay.
Both Dentler and Clark Case, the town’s director of finance and administrative services, warned council members that pushing back the adoption of the budget and tax rate could make it difficult for the town staff to have everything ready for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. Dentler said the staff could manage with a two-week delay, but strongly advised against pushing the adoption into May.
One budget item that did receive a significant amount of attention during Monday’s work session was the Catoctin Skate Park renovation. The almost $1 million project is one area of the budget that saw a cost increase from the current fiscal year to fiscal year 2017 because of soil conditions on the site. Several hundred thousand dollars in additional funding was added, for a project total of $976,200.
The new skate park will be shifted on the property to allow for the expansion of the Loudoun County Rescue Squad next door. The rescue squad is offering $260,000 to aid in the skate park project.
But the cost increases for the skate park renovation have reinvigorated discussion, and support, from some council members about moving the skate park to Ida Lee Park. That becomes the cheaper option as the cost of site work on Catoctin Circle increases.
Burk and Councilman Marty Martinez said they support keeping the skate park on Catoctin Circle, while Councilwoman Suzanne Fox said she supported moving the project to Ida Lee Park. Gemmill suggested postponing the project for a year to get more information.