County supervisors will add a chief of staff position to the county Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure to the next annual county budget after brief deliberations Monday.
That department has a big part in managing the county’s six-year, $2.5 billion capital budget, including construction projects like roads, schools, fire stations and other county facilities. Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who suggested the position, estimated it would cost the county $115,000.
“I think there just needs to be somebody who is really running the day-to-day a little more,” Letourneau said.
“We have one massive, massive capital budget program right now,” said Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “…I don’t want to shortchange this department.”
On top of managing those projects, department director Joe Kroboth said his department handles just under 300 items for the Board of Supervisors each year. Supervisors approved the new position 8-0-1, with Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) absent.
“I completely support a new position, you can call it whatever you want to,” said Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large). “I work long hours. I come in here and you’re here, I leave here and you’re here.”
“I echo all of those,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), immediately moving to cut a transportation planner from the department’s budget. That motion, along with most of his motions to make cuts, found no support among other board members and died without discussion for lack of a second.
Sheriff Pushed to Request Funding for Elementary School Officers
A highly-publicized suggestion by Sheriff Michael Chapman and Board of Supervisors at-large candidate John Whitbeck to put a deputy in every one of Loudoun’s almost 60 elementary schools was not included in Chapman’s budget request.
In materials prepared for the meeting, questions from Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large)—who Whitbeck seeks to unseat—about the personnel, operating, and capital costs of putting a Juvenile Resource Office in every school were answered:
“Thank you for your questions regarding the future concept/proposal of incrementally assigning JRO/SROs to each of our elementary schools, but this item will be for a future Board of Supervisors and it is not relevant to this year’s budget request.”
Nonetheless, Chapman’s department estimated it would cost the county around $11 million to put an officer in every elementary school.
In a meeting with the Board, Randall pressed Chapman to offer a funding request for those positions, which she said she would support.
“If you’d like to request more, we can go back and work the numbers,” Randall said. “I’ll make the motion.”
Other supervisors also supported the idea, but were unclear what the “concern and objectives” of those officers would be.
“We’re missing a few things,” Letourneau said. “Number one, we’ve got to get Loudoun County Public Schools involved in this conversation, because they ultimately have to agree with this, and talking to the Chairman of the School Board, he doesn’t even know about it other than what he’s read. He later added: “I have some concerns about making that level of investment, and I say that as a parent who has kids in those schools every day.”
So far, supervisors are still on track for a real estate tax rate of $1.045 per $100 of assessed value, a four-cent tax rate cut from the current rate of $1.085. The board has so far seen relatively simple and quick budget deliberations, as the county enjoyed a tax revenue windfall this year. County Administrator Tim Hemstreet has said every county priority is met at that tax rate.
Supervisors will hold their next budget work session Monday, March 11.