Zurn on Loudoun Budget: ‘We Have a Spending Problem’

County supervisors face conflicting pushes to lower taxes while also meeting the needs of Loudoun’s lower-income families and most vulnerable residents as they go into discussions on their Fiscal Year 2023 budget this evening.

During three budget public hearings on Thursday and Saturday, the county board heard from both people urging them to get their spending under control—including county Treasurer Roger Zurn—and people urging them to help out those who need it most.

“We should admit we don’t have a revenue problem here in Loudoun. Instead, we have a spending problem,” Zurn said. He urged supervisors to pass a smaller budget this year and make more conservative estimates of data center tax revenues, and when the data centers overshoot those estimates, to put that suplus into reserves.

A number of residents from Sterling’s Cardinal Glen neighborhood urged supervisors not to remove a traffic light on Rt. 7 at the entrance to their neighborhood, citing safety concerns.

Meanwhile, leaders in the county’s nonprofit community urged supervisors to increase their funding to support those people who most need help—and who have most strongly been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter interim Executive Director Samantha Clarke asked supervisors to direct more funding to her nonprofit, one of five that receive funding from the county directly.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, LAWS has seen a significant increase in the demand for our victim services. LAWS anticipates continued vulnerabilities exacerbated by the pandemic will be reflected in increased interpersonal violence in our community,” she said.

She also added her voice in support of a proposal to direct a half-penny of the county’s real estate tax into the Housing Trust Fund.

“Our community needs accessible and affordable housing, especially for survivors. This barrier is one of the leading causes of survivor vulnerability and re-victimization,” she said.

Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties President and CEO Amy Owen agreed.

“Our community cannot afford to live in our community,” she said. “Too many who do live here are heavily cost burdened, increasing stress, food insecurity and important child and family outcomes. A half penny tax is affordable and reasonable and will achieve much to move the needle.”

Those voices were also joined by Loudouners organized by New Virginia Majority, which also led a march through Leesburg to the public hearing to call for more access to housing.

“The county must commit to no net loss of affordable units and invest the resources necessary to make that possible,” said New Virginia Majority organizer Sofia Saiyed. “It’s unconscionable that in the wealthiest county in the nation, next door to million dollar homes, hardworking families are paying over half their incomes in rent to live in homes, with no heating, with insects and rats with mold, where repairs never get done—and yet where somehow, the rents keep going up. It’s unconscionable that hard working essential workers, should have to resort to food pantries to feed their families because all of their money goes to keeping a roof over heads. As a community, we must come together to ensure that no one should have to forego basic necessities to afford a safe comfortable, and dignified home.”

And with county employees in the process of unionizing, Service Employees International Union Virginia 512 members urged supervisors to stay the course on collective bargaining and keep public employee compensation in mind.

“I am speaking today to ask the board to support funding for staff shortages in critical human services departments as well as county-wide, as staff are being asked to work in areas they are not trained for, and that do not fit their job description,” said Bernard Trice.

Crissy Helinski, a county employee of 27 years, said she can no longer afford to live in Loudoun.

“Addressing these critical funding priorities will go a long way in enabling county employees to live in the county where they work and will directly improve the high turnover and staff shortages that currently exist,” she said.

The Board of Supervisors holds its first budget work session tonight at 6 p.m. Supervisors will also start with the largest and some of the most controversial parts of the county’s budget, including the school system’s budget request and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, which has faced criticism from both the public and supervisors during last year’s budget deliberations. Also on the agenda are the Sheriff’s Office, the fire and rescue department, and Community Corrections.

Watch the budget deliberations online at loudoun.gov/webcast.

16 thoughts on “Zurn on Loudoun Budget: ‘We Have a Spending Problem’

  • 2022-02-28 at 3:39 pm

    Yes, the Board of Supervisors has a spending problem. Their biggest expense is LCPS. Cut LCPS’s budget substantially.

    Unaffordable housing is a national problem. The BoS can do two things to help 1) Stop their own discriminatory zoning and allow mobile home parks; 2) Lower property taxes.

    • 2022-03-18 at 8:25 pm

      Amen, they don’t want to tackle the discriminatory zoning policies that they uphold. These zoning policies are a huge link to the unaffordable prices that we see in this county and across the country. They would rather virtue signal to “tout” their affordable housing programs that “they” created, which can actually exacerbate the issue by pulling housing for an accepted few off of the larger market at an affordable rate. They need to take this NIMBY bs on head first and start loosening up zoning practices in many of the developed areas of this county.

  • 2022-02-28 at 5:20 pm

    Out-of-control spending is but one of the many wide-ranging problems the (D)s have created.

  • 2022-02-28 at 6:54 pm

    Do you ever wonder why you only see expensive new homes getting built? Who is in charge of that decision? There is a tremendous conflict of interest that drives the board to build more dense, more expensive housing units. Every new $750,000 brings in far more taxes than smaller $150,000 homes. What do you think the board is going to approve?

    Government has failed at everything it has tried from housing to transportation to law enforcement. We need to reject the 100-year long experiment with “progressive policies” because they obviously don’t work.

  • 2022-02-28 at 7:19 pm

    Of course there is a spending problem but there’s also a rhetoric problem too. Sofia Saiyed what is your evidence? Got pictures? Health Department inspection reports?

    “live in homes, with no heating, with insects and rats with mold, where repairs never get done”

  • 2022-02-28 at 11:15 pm

    There’s a very easy, obvious solution. LCPS enrollment is down 7%. Since the school budget is by far the largest component of the budget, start by reducing the school budget by 7%. Done.

  • 2022-03-01 at 7:29 am

    How about zero based budgeting instead of what can we add assuming everything we spend on now is needed? I totally agree on fully supporting non-profit charities that get involved locally with much needed voluntary help but not all non-profits are charitable and should not be able to avoid paying property tax especially as the state statute allows 28% for police and fire protection to be collected. Should the Howard Hughes Institute really continue to have its property tax waived on its $600 million property? Should the organization funded by the former owner of the Redskins really be able to avoid paying some property tax on their office building? Should the hospitals avoid at least paying for fire and police protection?
    In my experience the school board doesn’t even do an organizational review of departmental efficiency which is required by state statute 22.1-79. Maybe the BOS could focus on some financial details during budget time instead of equity/partisan signaling and insignificant pet projects! 🙂

  • 2022-03-01 at 7:45 am

    Roger is always correct it just takes time for some to catch up. BTW his jokes are funny.

  • 2022-03-01 at 8:27 am

    While you can be ignorant for very little money, it takes a significant amount of money to educate children in today’s world. We need to be developing tomorrow’s citizens who we hope are better informed than some we have around today. Banning the books they can read, dictating curriculum that conforms to right wing ideology and then cutting funds for schools are all such foolish and counterproductive ideas.

    • 2022-03-01 at 10:10 am

      Democrats and their policies have destroyed public education in America. There are countless studies that demonstrate how poorly educated graduates of public schools are versus the obscene amounts of money we spend on the schools. We need school choice to start to un-do the damage Democrats have done to education.

    • 2022-03-01 at 10:25 am

      But you definitely approve curriculum that “conforms to left wing ideology,” correct?

      Happy Ideology Not Fact Day, Loudoun!

    • 2022-03-01 at 5:40 pm

      I lived in the FSU. I can tell you you don’t want to be creating Marxist minions who only care about gender and skin color and whose sole ability after graduation is to agitate for “social justice” and sue their employers. But that’s what LCPS seems to want to do. That is not the future any of us want to live in.

  • 2022-03-01 at 10:45 am

    Spending per student has increased every year yet non-factual ideologues beat the drum for more $$$ per student to meet some unmet need.

    • 2022-03-02 at 1:48 am

      To put that into context, annual per pupil spending in FY14 was $11,900. In FY23, it will be $19,500+. That is a 64% increase in less than 10 years. Inflation averaged about 1-2% in that time or a total of +21% from 2013- > 2022. The BOS, including RINOs like Matt Letourneau and Geary Higgins and Ralph Buona, have allowed LCPS and its tax-and-spend Liberals (see Jeff Morse, Jill Turgeon, Eric Hornberger, Brenda Sheridan, Debbie Rose, Atoosa Reaser, Denise Corbo, Ian Serotkin, etc.) to jack up LCPS spending by 3x the rate of inflation. All while LCPS scores have fallen even before COVID hit.

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