County taxpayers may soon be helping to light up some of Loudoun’s neighborhoods.
The Board of Supervisors has passed a proposal, brought by Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling), to evaluate the establishment of a lighting program for areas such as Sterling Park, where there are no homeowners’ associations to set up streetlights.
“We definitely need something to brighten up the area so people can walk safely, crime, et cetera, et cetera,” Saines said. “… So I guess the only question is, now how do you pay for it? So whether we can do it with completely county tax dollars, or we can set up a special tax district for those who request it in a certain area, I’m open to all things.”
Some supervisors were skeptical, warning that streetlights can be expensive, particularly in the ongoing costs to operate and maintain them. Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said there was no room in the county’s capital budget for a streetlights program.
“If we’re going to fund lights in one place, everybody else is going to want us to fund them, including the HOAs that have them, because, if I were them, I’d rip them out if we’re going to do it on taxpayer money,” Buona said.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said he would only considering supporting the program if it was funded through a special tax district. “To me, the way to deal with it is just like an HOA: if you want to pay for it, we can do it,” he said.
But supervisors narrowly voted that proposal down.
But County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said the most common advice for safety is walking in well-lit areas.
“Lighting is a safety issue, and I cannot agree that we are going to say to some neighborhoods, if you can afford it, you are going to be safe,” Randall said. She also said some of the neighborhoods that most need the program would be those least able to afford a special tax.
Supervisors voted 7-2 to explore the feasibility of the program.
This story was updated Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 11:54 p.m. It previously incorrectly reported supervisors will study a special tax district; that proposal was voted down.