Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet will unveil his proposal for Loudoun County’s first pandemic-era budget tonight at 5 p.m.
Budget serves as a starting point not only for county supervisors’ deliberations on what the county government will be able to do in the next year, but also for their deliberations on setting a real estate tax rate to pay for it. And Hemstreet is expected to introduce a tax rate proposal lower than previously discussed in the boardroom in January, thanks to continued fluctuations in property assessments.
Currently, the real estate tax rate is $1.035 per $100 of assessed value. In January, supervisors directed Hemstreet to prepare a budget a penny above the equalized tax rate, the rate at which the average tax bill dollar amount stays the same despite changing property values, with options included in his proposal to add or lower the tax rate by a penny from there.
During the pandemic, however, commercial real estate values have not kept up with residential property values, meaning homeowners’ bills will climb faster and leaving them to pick up some of the weight of slumping commercial property tax bills.
At the time, the overall equalized rate was $1.015; supervisors directed a budget prepared at a tax rate of $1.025. But as revenue projections continue to improve from county budget staff’s cautious early projections, the county has placed a required legal notice with a tax rate no higher than $1.01.
If Hemstreet’s proposal is a penny less than that, at $1 per $100 of assessed value, it will be the lowest absolute rate since 2008, the last time the tax rate was below a dollar—although climbing property values will mean tax bills may be bigger.
County budget staff previewed some of that budget Tuesday night, when they gave the board’s finance committee a brief overview of the proposed capital budget. While transportation projects remain the biggest expense in the six year capital plan, with schools coming in second, they are slowly tapering back down from supervisors’ years-long push to improve the state’s failing road infrastructure.