Editor: Loudoun County’s explosive growth comes with an undesirable, yet understandable price. Ballooning school budgets. Overburdened and deadly roadways. Massive development and its associated crowding. Crime, political dysfunction, and even stunning economic disparity in the “wealthiest county” in the galaxy.
Loudoun taxpayers shoulder a significant burden in debt load and real outlays. We are a generous people slightly prone to shrugging off a few lavish expenses. What is unacceptable is waste, fraud, and abuse of our generosity. The open-ended blank check a previous Board of Supervisors wrote in our kids’ names to prop up the failing Metro system is fraud. The unnecessary extravagance of some public buildings is waste. The near predictable and continuous cost overruns on everything from a county computer system, the Sheriff’s Office range, to a simple parking garage with no accountability is abuse.
None of those examples combine waste, fraud, and abuse quite so succinctly as the shady scheme being rushed through by the board to spend tens of millions of our tax dollars outright buying a stadium, office complex, parking lots and other facilities for the multi-millionaire owners of a sports team at Bolen Park. That’s precisely what our Board of Supervisors is committing Loudoun’s taxpayers to be on the hook for.
The board is trying to sell it as a $15 million “loan.” However, there’s an additional 7 million tax dollars (double that in real life) for the site work, all to the super wealthy owner’s specifications and approval. The real gem that will have the board and their new millionaire pals howling with laughter in their ritzy exclusive Board of Supervisors stadium suite—taxpayers have to cough up an unspecified amount to build the roads to the stadium.
That means completely rebuilding Cochran Mill Road, currently a dirt byway. Sycolin Road will need to be rebuilt along with its already deteriorating bridge over Goose Creek. If you live in the Kincaid Forrest area, you’re going to love the overwhelming event traffic on Kincaid Blvd. Maybe finish Cross Trails Boulevard at public expense. This is expected to be done by 2019, adding additional tens of millions of dollars to the taxpayer’s tab.
All of this when Rt. 15 North is still a nightmare; miles long twice daily backups on the Dulles Greenway and Leesburg Bypass; The Rt. 28 cluster; The parking lot formally known as Rt. 50 in Dulles South; deadly Evergreen Mill Road; Rt. 9 through Hillsboro, and 67 other spots that needed transportation dollars years ago. Yet, the board wants to forsake our critical daily quality of life issues and prioritize building roads for multi-millionaires and their farm team because they might put “Loudoun” somewhere on their road jerseys (That’s actually in the agreement).
The team is supposed to pay the original $15 million note. Maybe they will, maybe not. But we taxpayers are paying for everything else at a time when we have so many other real needs in the county. This is corporate welfare in the raw and in our face. If that wasn’t bad enough, the county and the millionaires will work “collectively” to lobby Richmond for the passage of an “admissions tax” that never ever goes away, with the wealthy team owners getting a cut of that tax after the note is paid. That’s not just wrong, it should be illegal.
We have to vote on fire stations, libraries, and schools but there is no mention of putting this on the ballot. It appears some on the board want to slip this by without taxpayer approval as early as next week. In a case of spectacular timing, they dropped this the week before Christmas and are pushing for approval just after New Year’s. The county doesn’t move that fast on anything making this deal smell even worse.
If you’ve lived in Loudoun long enough, you’ve seen some horrible examples of poor governance, but this stadium deal takes the cake. We are being sold a lemon. Contact your supervisor. Ask them if it’s such a great deal, why the unprecedented rush, and why isn’t a private equity firm paying us, instead of the taxpayers getting a kick in the gut yet again?
Chris Manthos, Leesburg