Lovettsville Town Manager Rob Ritter is proposing a fiscal year 2020 budget that aims to hold tax rates level for residents and businesses.
Ritter on Thursday night presented the Town Council with his proposed $4.7 million operating budget, suggesting no increases to utility rates, business license fees or real estate taxes. Ritter said town finances are doing well enough to allow stabilized rates. “It looks like we can have a good balanced budget without having any increased rates and fees,” he said.
Currently, residents pay $8.96 per 1,000 gallons of water and $14.23 per 1,000 gallons of wastewater. Although the Town Council in 2015 approved a plan to increase utility rates by 1.5 percent in fiscal year 2020, Ritter said that an increase in utility rates was unnecessary next year and that the town would take another look at them for fiscal year 2021. “We can manage this upcoming year,” he said.
Compared with other western Loudoun towns, Lovettsville’s water rates are 66 cents more than Round Hill’s, $2.49 more than Purcellville’s and $3.36 more than Hamilton’s. They’re also $2.26 lower than Hillsboro’s and $7.68 lower than Middleburg’s.
Lovettsville’s sewer rates are $4.62 higher than Round Hill’s and $6.98 higher than Hamilton’s. They’re also $1.26 lower than Purcellville’s and $2.91 lower than Middleburg’s.
Ritter expects that the town will collect $425,000 from water fees and $628,668 from sewer fees next fiscal year, which is $7,418 more than what the town expects to generate in the current fiscal year from water fees and the same amount it expects to generate in sewer fees.
Ritter also proposed that the town’s real estate tax remain at 19.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, expecting the town to collect $555,226 from the tax residentially—nearly $1,000 less than what was budgeted for in fiscal year 2019.
Lovettsville’s rate is 2.5 cents more than Hillsboro’s, 2.6 cents more than Round Hill’s and 4.2 cents more than Middleburg’s. It’s also 2.5 cents less than Purcellville’s and 8.5 cents less than Hamilton’s.
Ritter also proposed no increase to the town’s Business, Professional and Occupational License fees. Those are set at $30 for gross receipts up to $20,000 and 17 cents per $100 for gross receipts in excess of $20,000.
Ritter also proposed a $448,500 transfer from the general and utility funds to help pay for 16 projects in the 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. Of those projects, nine are new and seven will be carried over from the current fiscal year.
New general fund projects include $10,000 for a new downtown parking lot, $3,000 for a “love” sign on the Town Square, $5,000 for wayfinding signs, a $5,000 pedestrian crossing, $85,000 for a Transportation Master Plan, and $150,000 for a town office expansion.
New Utility Fund projects include $8,000 for Broad Way water line replacements, $25,000 for water treatment plant access road improvements; and $25,000 for wastewater treatment plant improvements.
The seven projects being carried over from fiscal year 2019 include two Broad Way improvements that total $353,000, $103,000 for Church Street and Pennsylvania Avenue improvements, $15,000 for water treatment plant improvements; $6,000 to cap offline town wells, $37,000 for meter replacements; and a $10,000 well restoration project.
The Town Council will hold a budget work session to discuss the general fund on Jan. 17, to discuss the Utility Fund on Jan. 24 and to discuss the Capital Improvement Plan on Jan. 31. Additional work sessions will be held on Feb. 1 and March 7 if needed.
A public hearing will be held on Feb. 28 before the budget is adopted on March 14.