A lot can change in two weeks, and that appears to be the case when it comes to Town Council members’ feelings over the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget and its accompanying real estate tax rate.
On Monday night, the council held its final mark-up session before its budget adoption planned for Tuesday evening. Two weeks ago the first work session brought forward a series of proposals from council members, from finding room in the budget for more than $30,000 in board and commission funding requests, to imposing fees for downtown business refuse and recycling collection, to increasing in the real estate tax rate and even the meals tax.
All those appear to be off the table, and coronavirus is the culprit.
As the global pandemic has begun to cause massive economic disruption that many predict will lead to lengthy and troublesome decline, council members seemed loath to make any changes ahead of Tuesday’s budget adoption.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler presented his proposed budget in February with a recommendation to maintain the 18.4-cent real estate tax rate, the same as the current fiscal year’s. With the rise in assessments, the 18.4-cent is expected to generate higher real estate tax bills for the average homeowner, of between $2.25 to $6.58 more monthly, depending on housing type.
Dentler is expected to spend Tuesday trimming back the budget to fit within the 18.4-cent rate. A late-in-the-game adjustment brought the budget up to an 18.56-cent rate, because of a state-mandated increase in the town’s contribution to the Virginia Retirement System. The town was only informed of that more than $200,000 budget hit two weeks ago. To get back to the 18.4-cent rate, Dentler will have to find more than $130,000 in spending reductions.
A public hearing on the tax rate is planned for Tuesday evening, and the budget adoption is also expected to occur Tuesday. For more on Leesburg’s budget, go to leesburgva.gov/budget.