Ahead of tonight’s anticipated fiscal year 2022 budget adoption, members of the Leesburg Town Council added almost $100,000 into the General Fund during Monday’s final budget mark-up session.
In non-binding straw votes, the council supported Councilwoman Suzanne Fox’s idea to add $60,000 back into the budget to cover anticipated repairs and upgrades at the Loudoun Museum’s main building on Loudoun Street. The nearby log cabin, a town-owned property, is expected to be the new offices for the town’s Economic Development Department staff, with Mayor Kelly Burk and the Town Council taking over the current Clerk’s office in Town Hall, and Clerk of Council Eileen Boeing moving into economic development’s former space in the Town Manager’s Office.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler said in discussions with Loudoun Museum staff about this move, which will require updating the museum’s lease with the town, upgrades to the museum’s HV/AC system and bathrooms were identified as a need. He said a budget for those upgrades had not been established, but said he supported the $60,000 allocation proposed by Fox.
Initially, Dentler had budgeted $60,000 in the General Fund to be used for leasing office space and other related expenses for the mayor and council; however, a majority of the council favored utilizing only town-owned office space for their use. Vice Mayor Marty Martinez sought support for instead putting that money back in the budget for office space leasing instead of using it for museum repairs, but did not receive enough support for that to move forward.
Burk also received support for adding $37,000 into the budget for new Christmas decorations. She noted that the holiday decorations had been very successful in bringing visitors to the downtown area and said she believed that coming out of the pandemic even more people would be eager to get out of their houses.
Kate Trask, deputy director of parks and recreation, said if that moves forward in the budget staff would look to expand on the existing decoration plan with emphasis in the downtown area. Some of the ideas considered are adding 3D elements to the Mervin Jackson Park and Town Green landscapes; enhancing existing light displays with upgraded features; replacing some of the garland on the light poles with lit garland; and expanding on the white lights along the rooftops. She emphasized, however, that budget and infrastructure will determine the outcome.
Prior to last night’s mark-up session, the council was looking at an 18.33-cent real estate tax rate, down from Dentler’s proposed 18.4-cent rate. However, if Monday’s changes should stick, the tax rate looks to be at or slightly above Dentler’s proposed 18.4 cents. With a more than 8% rise in residential assessments, that would mean small increases in residential tax bills, between $4 and a little more than $5 monthly depending on the type of property.
Tonight’s 7 p.m. council meeting will also feature a public hearing on the tax rate, with budget adoption expected soon thereafter. Check loudounnow.com for updates.