The Leesburg Town Council last night adopted its budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2019.
The final product comes with no changes to the proposal presented by Town Manager Kaj Dentler at the end of February. The council also adopted Dentler’s proposed real estate tax rate of 18.4-cent per $100 of assessed value, which will spell slight tax bill increases for most homeowners. The adopted rate is the same as the current fiscal year’s. Because of increasing property values, homeowners, on average, will see an increase of $33.40 from calendar year 2017, or an additional $2.78 per month, according to the town’s calculations.
The adopted budget comes with four new full-time positions in the General Fund, and two new positions in the Utilities Fund. It is the highest number of staff positions added in the budget since 35 positions were eliminated from Town Hall between fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
Councilman Tom Dunn, the lone dissenter on both the tax rate and overall budget adoption, said he disagreed with the majority of additions in the fiscal year 2019 budget, particularly the staff increases.
“This is definitely a tax increase that frankly I don’t feel is warranted,” he said. “Most of the increase from the equalized rate [of 17.6 cents] are enhancements that are really building the size of government. Most citizens are not going to see these enhancements.”
Dunn offered an amendment to drop the tax rate to 17.5 cents, but found no support.
Council members seemed aware that more work will be needed in future budget years, as Dentler has warned that the town’s growing population will continue to put a strain on government resources. Dentler had strongly advocated against dropping the tax rate to the equalized rate.
Both Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox and Councilman Ron Campbell said the council needs to look at finding other sources of revenue for the town to ensure that taxes do not continue to increase.
“If we’re growing the way we keep growing that means taxes will keep increasing. That to me is not sustainable,” she said.
Councilman Marty Martinez said council members will need to work closely with state legislators to look for new revenue sources, as the General Assembly limits what a municipality can do.
A vote to adopt the fiscal year 2018-2023 Capital Improvements Program was unanimous. The CIP includes 40 projects, totaling $168.4 million over the six years of the program. Notable projects in the CIP that will begin construction in fiscal year 2019 are utility relocation for the Rt. 7/Battlefield Parkway interchange; the final phase of Sycolin Road widening from Tolbert Lane to the southern town corporate limits; and the widening of Evergreen Mill Road. Expansions of the Leesburg Police Department building on Plaza Street and the refurbishment of the Town Shop building on Russell Branch Parkway were added to the six-year CIP in fiscal years 2020 and 2023, respectively.
The newly-adopted budget and CIP will be available for at leesburgva.gov/budget within the next month. The proposed budget document is available now.