The Leesburg Town Council has adopted its fiscal year 2021 budget and accompanying real estate tax rate.
On Tuesday night, the council officially adopted both its $143 million budget and 18.4-cent tax rate. While the budget and six-year Capital Improvements Program passed with little debate, a vote on the real estate tax rate was much more spirited.
During its Monday night work session, a council majority had made its preference for keeping the tax rate level at 18.4 cents clear, given the uncertain economic times with the coronavirus pandemic. But it took several votes Tuesday night to get to that rate, with votes for an 18.56-cent rate and the equalized tax rate, at which tax bills would remain level, of 17.5 cents, unsuccessful. The first vote for an 18.4-cent rate was also unsuccessful. But, the fourth vote was the charm, with six of the seven council members, with the exception of Councilman Tom Dunn, supporting 18.4 cents. Dunn had supported the equalized tax rate.
The level tax rate will mean slight increases to the average residential tax bill, because of rising residential assessments. Single-family homeowners would pay an average of $6.58 more monthly; townhome owners an additional $3 per month; and condominium owners $2.25 more, according to town figures.
Dunn abstained on the vote to approve the budget, but the vote to approve the CIP was unanimous.
The $143 million budget includes only one new position in the General Fund, an IT systems analyst, that will not be filled until Jan. 1. The budget also includes $415,000 in recurring costs to separate the town’s internet service dependence from Loudoun County, and the implementation of Office365. Other General Fund impacts include a more than 11 percent jump in pension costs mandated by the state, which alone had more than a $200,000 budgetary impact. There is no cost of living adjustments for employees in the budget, but there is an average 3 percent pay for performance increases. Town Manager Kaj Dentler also is increasing the amount of money set aside for project management costs in the Capital Fund, via a transfer from the General Fund, to reduce the dependence on debt service for that line item. The budget also accounts for a $145,000 increase in the town’s trash and recycling contract, with both contractual increases and the need to provide additional service, and trash bins, to new units in town.
Along with the real estate tax rate, personal property taxes will also remain flat for fiscal year 2021. The budget can be found online at leesburgva.gov/budget.