Tax Hike Likely as Loudoun Supervisors Launch Budget Work

The Board of Supervisors has given County Administrator Tim Hemstreet his instructions for proposing the next annual county budget, which will likely see homeowners paying more on their real estate tax bills.

Loudouners are seeing two things pushing their tax bills up: a gulf between residential and commercial real estate appreciation, and a continually growing cost of government as the county itself continues to grow. Typically, commercial and residential real estate appreciate at similar rates; this year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged commercial property values while residential real estate continues its climb. That has meant that the homeowners’ equalized tax rate—the tax rate at which the average property owner pays roughly the same dollar amount on their tax bill, despite changing property values—is lower than the overall equalized rate.

Today’s tax rate is $1.035 per $100 of assessed value; the current projection for the next equalized tax rate is $1.015 overall and would be $0.995 for homeowners. The report to county supervisors did not even contemplate a tax rate that low. According to the meeting item Jan. 5, at a tax rate of $1 per $100 of assessed value, a fraction of a center higher, the county would not generate enough funding for any county department requests and only a few Board of Supervisors initiatives.

Supervisors set Hemstreet to work preparing a budget rate at—$1.025. According to a staff report, the proposed rate would be an increase to the average homeowner’s bill over 2020 of $159.

The budget direction—to prepare a budget above the equalized rate, with options to raise or lower the tax rate by a cent—also marks a departure from how previous boards began their budget work. Historically, the board has begun work at the equalized rate, with options to go above or below. Starting from the county administrator’s proposed budget, supervisors then tweak the budget by picking and choosing among options for adding to and cutting from the budget.

Republican supervisors led by finance committee chairman Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) pushed to start budget work in the traditional fashion, but were voted down along party lines.

“We are lowering the tax rate. The reason your property owners on average are going to pay more money is because their property values have gone up,” said Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn). “If you really want to lower their taxes, the absolute dollars of taxes, then I suggest you go out to your communities and do everything you can to lower the property values. You’ll be very popular.”

“We were elected to do things differently, first of all, and we’ve underfunded our county in the last couple decades,” said Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian).

Supervisors voted down Letourneau’s motion to begin budget deliberations at the overall equalized rate, and in favor of beginning at $1.025, along party lines.

Under the current revenue estimates, each cent of the real property tax rate is worth $9,735,000. Hemstreet will bring supervisors a budget that includes funding for several board initiatives including expanding the Sheriff’s Office’s body-worn camera program, expanding the drug court, and funding to allow the county government to being collective bargaining with employee unions.

14 thoughts on “Tax Hike Likely as Loudoun Supervisors Launch Budget Work

  • 2021-01-08 at 3:44 pm

    “If you really want to lower their taxes, the absolute dollars of taxes, then I suggest you go out to your communities and do everything you can to lower the property values.”

    We are barely into 2021, and already we get the dumbest quote of the year. If you really want to lower their taxes, Mike Turner (D-Ashburn), then you cut taxes. The value of houses does not effect the amount money the County needs to spend.

    • 2021-01-08 at 8:53 pm

      Mike Turner is a congenital liar. Let’s be clear:

      Datacenters are throwing off even MORE taxes to be spent by the BOS. Thus their overall spending would go up even when holding the residential tax rate at the equalized number.

      Turner knows he is lying. Or is he really so dumb to not understand this.

      The LoCo gov’t has increased spending at a 7% annual rate for years. Population growth is under 2%. The notion that ANYTHING is “underfunded” in LoCo is the greatest lie this county has ever seen.

  • 2021-01-08 at 4:04 pm

    Many parents are struggling as they work and educate their kids because the schools are closed, many businesses both locally and nationally have failed, companies are laying off people and the best Mr. Turner can do is to tell us to lower our property values??? This guy is clueless, we have record revenue from all the data centers so why not look to lower the rate to help the citizens out. How can we make the county more affordable for people when the taxes keep going up? Why are we building affordable housing to have the people who get these houses not be able to afford the taxes? Why can’t the government look to cut expenses like the residents of Loudoun County do???

  • 2021-01-08 at 4:17 pm

    “… and a continually growing cost of government as the county itself continues to grow.”

    That’s all this is about. Growing their cult of government. These supervisors don’t care about Loudoun homeowners. We’re nothing but a ATM to them.

    Never once, ever, ever, is any consideration given to maybe cutting out some of the nice to have – but could live without stuff?

  • 2021-01-08 at 4:28 pm

    I wonder if there was a way to lower the taxes. Perhaps lowered spending. You know like just the $2.1m for a land purchase and swap that benefits developers. Perhaps a lower spending budget for LCPS which are virtual learning. Not spending $123m for LCPS upgrades at this time on low tax revenue.

  • 2021-01-08 at 6:09 pm

    If schools are closed for a year and school funding is 70% of the budget, seems like it would be pretty easy to closed a 2% gap. Surely the schools can’t spend 100% of their budget when they are closed????
    Well, with Democrat’s in charge…maybe!

  • 2021-01-08 at 8:48 pm

    It’s a radical idea but how about if the BoS stops spending on idiotic land deals and other wasteful projects? The residents of Loudoun County are not an ATM for the pet projects of these people who are clearly in over their heads.

  • 2021-01-09 at 2:06 am

    Elections have consequences. Vote for DEMs, pay more taxes!

  • 2021-01-09 at 6:00 am

    The county could start with the schools, which are over funded. In my personal situation, I did not receive a pay raise last year and my company told us there will likely be no increases this year as well. That said, at least I have a job (although zero benefits or paid time off, unlike the government workers with lavish benefit packages). My spouse did receive a pay raise which netted out (after taxes) to $736 for the entire year. The supervisors are are either blind to or don’t care about what is happening in the general economy.

    The real decline in Loudoun seems to have occurred when Scott York split the ticket leading to the clown show that is now in office.

  • 2021-01-09 at 10:31 am

    I agree! STOP BUYING LAND! You guys act like we are bottomless pits of money to be used at YOUR discretion. Land should not be bought without taxpayer input, “kick backs” to developers is a crime! Let’s just settle down and stop all this development and rush to increase it. If you have a 10lb bag, you stop at 10 lbs…you don’t keep stuffing crap into it. It’s OK if we slow development for awhile, people will just have to wait to move into Loudoun or Leesburg when there’s a house for sale. Affordable housing is a joke around here, the operative word being ” affordable”! Thank God I’m old and qualify for tax relief, which, by the way is FAR too liberal. If I had as much as the top of the limit, I’d be able to afford my taxes!
    Let’s just slow down development and land grabbing. All this excess money you ” have” to spend or return and you want to raise taxes! Forget whether your a Dem or Republican, start worrying about the people who elected you hoping you were going to worry about THEM!

  • 2021-01-09 at 10:49 am

    “The county would not generate enough funding for any county department requests and only a few Board of Supervisors initiatives.” exactly what are these “requests” and “initiatives”? removing statues? renaming roads?

  • 2021-01-09 at 2:25 pm

    No matter what your political persuasion there should ALWAYS be an audit. It is what healthy companies and honest governments do to show how disciplined they were in maximizing the use of tax dollars. Now let’s take this latest unreasonable suggestion that the BOS doesn’t already have enough money coming in to run the county. (39% higher rate than the rest of Virginia)

    Did any of the BOS even question how the school board could spend $1.4 billion without even being fully open? As a former 8 year school board member who chaired the finance committee I can state that when schools are not open there are less tax dollars consumed!


  • 2021-01-09 at 7:43 pm

    Remove this ridiculous BOS to stop them from constantly approving more and more housing developments. Jurisdictions mostly in the West have moratoriums on building when they simply cannot afford it. LoCo cannot afford one more house and the strings that more residents bring with them. Schools, police and fire, roads etc. Just say NO for goodness sake. When the developer signs touting their new housing developments stop, our taxes will stabilize. Why does a county like LoCo constantly elect people who don’t know how to stop development? They are afraid of the building industry much like GOP are scared of Trump. Grow a set and slow building and give us a shot at getting our debt in check.

  • 2021-01-10 at 6:22 am

    Surprise, surprise. Raising taxes is always the easy and weak way out of solving society’s problems. You never hear a politician say “Perhaps we can manage this process or system better and save”, or “Let’s make it a goal to eliminate the waste, fraud and abuse by trying X, Y, and Z instead of raising taxes”. I actually have wealthy friends who say it’s no big deal to raise taxes as it’s only another $500 or $2000 a year extra from their pockets. Next thing you’ll know, the politicians will be proposing to have affordable housing projects, and they’ll tax you to pay for it! How ironic as these type of policies are creating the problem to begin with.

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