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Loudoun County Offers Dismal Budget Outlook

Loudoun County officials are forecasting a worse-than-anticipated budget shortfall next year of at least 11 percent, a predicament that would result in a slew of public programs being cut, hundreds of jobs being eliminated and a hefty increase in personal property tax rates for one of Northern Virginia's wealthiest localities.

Ben Mays, Loudoun's deputy budget director, told county supervisors at a meeting Wednesday that his office has projected a shortfall of about $72.5 million, and that Loudoun's real property portfolio could fall next year by at least 5 percent, or $30.7 million. An additional $84.2 million in expenses is projected, including operating costs associated with three new schools for 2,850 students and a new county jail.

"These are conservative numbers," Mays said. "We're trying to be cautious and they are preliminary, but they really are reasonable estimates."

The most surprising number was a suggested 21-cent increase in the personal property tax rate, to $1.458 per $100 of assessed value. Officials said the increase might be needed to cover expenses. If approved, the average personal property tax in Loudoun would go up by about $779 if county residential assessments stayed flat.

Like those in the rest of Northern Virginia, budget officials in Loudoun are placing the blame for the shortfall on decreased commercial assessments, which are expected to continue to decline next year. The county has also exhausted its federal stimulus money, is unable to refinance its bonds and is projecting another lean year for state appropriations.

Read the full article.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  September 2, 2009; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Loudoun County  
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