Loudoun Holiday Wishes

By Loudoun Insider

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all faithful TC readers. What are everyone’s Christmas wishes and/or New Year’s resolutions for Loudoun County?

My most important:

That more citizens become engaged in government and politics.

That Loudoun County Schools get a complete makeover and become a model of efficiency and fiscal prudence.

That the new Board of Supervisors makes my life easier by behaving themselves!

Unfortunately I only see the last one having any real chance of being fulfilled. Share yours.


Comments

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    I’d like to see Barbara Munsey have to stand before Sandra Chaloux in public comment…
    I hope the rumors that Kelly Burke is actually quite the fiscal conservative when it comes to the School Budget are true.
    And of course, I agree 100% with your hope that the taxpayers will take the time to keep an eye on the proceedings. We NEED more public scrutiny on a number of issues, as well as a voting public that doesn’t need to be informed of the situation…they already know. It’ll make it harder for the developers to lead them astray with pure BS…because the people will recognise it wen they hear it.

  • 10 feet, we won’t get the chance to see if Burk is hard liner on the school budget because everyone I talk to thinks she should recuse herself from debate/vote because she is a teacher.

    I must say, that position falls in line with most standards of ethics that I have been able to review.

    As an aside, I spent 20 minutes (which by my standards is a pretty long time) looking for the LCPS 2008 budget. I couldn’t find it. If someone can hook me up with the link to the budget, I would really appreciate it.

  • I still agree on that point, ed, although Burk believes she is in the clear based on an Attorney General opinion in regard to a similar situation elsewhere in the state. We’ll see.

    As far as the school budget goes, I have no clue, but understand that they guard it pretty tightly and it isn’t too easy to pick apart. The process definitely needs to be much more transparent. I think a bunch of us rabble rousers are going to have to start showing up at School Board meetings demanding some accountability.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Wow. If the LCPS budget is this close-to-the-vest document you describe LI, and not out there for public scrutiny, I am going to be first in line at the next School Board meeting.

    So, in the spirit of this thread, I wish for a transparent budget process for all.

  • Lee j says:

    You are correct this school budget should be itemized for all the public to see. What company in the world can have an almost billion dollars to spend a year and it is not thoroughly scrutinized. Perhaps we should have an independent audit. Not saying it is happening here but look what happened in DC over the past many years tens of millions stolen. Further this hatrick guy seems to have way too much power with very little oversight especially by outside sources. This is absolutely crazy to be able to spend almost a billion dollars a year with virtually no outside public oversight. What a potential scandal this has all the earmarks for a group such as in DC to rip us off.

    Lee j

  • LOUDOUN RABBLE ROUSER says:

    Kelly Burk (no ‘e’ at the end) doesn’t bother reading budgets or the details of these documents. She reportedly spent most of the Leesburg Council budget sessions doodling on her briefing book. She consistently opposed cuts in any programs. More than likely, she’ll do whatever York, Burton, Kurtz, et al, tell her to do. However, she is no friend of the teachers union, despite the fact she is a teacher. She tends to side with the administration over the teachers, which is why neither she, nor Clem, were endorsed by their union in the campaign. It would seem to me, though, that she has a major conflict of interest voting on the LCPS budget since she is an employee of the school system. In fact, she has enough years to retire from the schools and not make her students suffer every other Tuesday with a substitute teacher. She is neglecting them for her political career, and that is unfair.

  • Jose Kinusee says:

    This ‘hatrick guy’ has a power base that has been built over 30 years. He is extremely well connected and knows the ‘elite’ that run the county. Good luck in getting him to pay any attention to your wishes.

  • John Stevens says:

    The school budget is available online at the LCPS website. Look down the right side of the screen and find the link “FY09 Budget Information” (third down from the calendar links). I am making it the link to my name in this post. There you will find, on the left, links to the FY09 Proposed Operating Budget Presentation (4MB ppt), Executive Summary (7MB PDF) and Full Document (80MB pdf).

    Many extra hard copies of the documents have been at every regular meeting and Budget work session meeting of the School Board in November and December.

    Please also see LoudounSchools.org for my own posts regarding the budget (5 in December). I have several queued up for publication beginning January 2nd (when readers are paying attention again), and they include links to these documents.

    While you’re at the LCPS website, please check out the following, immediately below the calendar links on the right:

    Community Open House: Part of LCPS Efficiency Review
    If you are unable to attend the Community Open House, you are invited to provide your opinions online using this link, Efficiency Review.

  • Thank you, John Stevens. I look forward to reading your posts after the new year.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    “…because everyone I talk to thinks she should recuse herself from debate/vote because she is a teacher”

    Even if there is a financial conflict of interest, state law only requires recusal from the vote. Debate and discussion (even in closed session) is perfectly legal. I would say that the County Attorney should put forth his opinion on whether there is an actual legal conflict of interest and Burk should abide by this opinion. It is not like the situation is some sort of state secret.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    Loudoun Rabble Rouser,

    Are you going to speak in front of Sandra Chaloux? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    John Stevens,

    Would you be willing to give us your opinion on the 90% scheduling factor built into the CIP school capacity figures?

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    “Perhaps we should have an independent audit.”

    Lee,

    It has been done many times. The problems with audits is that they only look for accounting errors or abuses. Loudoun County and the LCPS typically come out pretty clean in that regard. These audits do not look for systematic inefficiencies only discrepencies. The job of finding savings in the system fall on us taxpayers and the school board and (to a lesser degree) the BOS.

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    Thank you, Mr. Stevens. But I’m told that the real document is an inch thick, and that if you want to break out any item in that, you need to read thru another 1/2″ thick itemization for that particular item. I’m not sure I want to open the .pdf, if it’ll overload my system.

    LRR, why don’t you go sow those bitter seeds somewhere else. Little is as offensive as Snow telling someone if they don’t like it here they should move to Canada, or sounding alarms that they’ll never back up with REAL action, like Delgottago. It’s THAT obvious that your feelings got hurt when the people of the county spoke, and you’re boys were sent packing. Get past that. We giggle everytime you whine about it.

    Edmund, I said in the beginning that if Kelly worked for the School System, she should probably recuse herself, and I’ll stand on that, even if she would probably turn out to be fiscally conservative on it. Ethics should be firm, even when the scenario would give us exactly what we wanted.

  • Loudoun Moderate says:

    I would like the county to either seriously reduce the budget or find a money source other than the long-suffering and increasingly financially-strapped homeowners. We are being taxed on assessed values that are in no way realistic in today’s housing market.

    We continually hear “…it’s for the children.” What about all the senior citizens and the working poor in the county?

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    “Good luck in getting him to pay any attention to your wishes.”

    It can be done and has been done in recent years. Loudoun Rabble Rouser may be able to coment in the two half full high school lobying effort and I can tell you that Hamiltonians have effectively reversed the school board on important Hatrick decisions.

    It takes organization and focus. The School Board will respond and Hatrick will move if he sees the School Board vote going against him.

    But it can’t just be a “cut the budget” sort of argument. The lobying has to be specific on an item by item basis. Attendance at the School Board budget work sessions are often helpful as this is where the details are discussed. Lobying of School Board members should start BEFORE the budget work sessions. By the time the work sessions are over, the SB budget is pretty much set in stone and is just a matter of formalizing through vote.

    It is a shame (perhaps by design) that much of this happens through the holiday season when citizens have little time for being involved. That is something that could and should be changed. A two year budget would be helpful as well.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    Man, I am having a reall problem with typing a double “b” today – lobbying!

  • Eric, I could not agree more with your sentiment about the timing on this. These work sessions were not on my radar and I’m starting to feel a bit like the horses are out of the barn.

    That being said, I’m still going to review the 499 page budget document that I just downloaded.

    *Gulp

    I want to say for the record that I am not a knee-jerk “this budget must be slashed” guy here.

    The process and the complexity of the budget does not inspire trust among many responsible for writing the checks (taxpayers). This budget might be the best ever put together by Western Man, it’s just very difficult to assess given its size, timing, review process. And that leaves many deeply skeptical.

  • John Stevens says:

    Fellas, please call me John. I’m a regular here.

    The LCPS budget process calendar is driven by the County Administration, which requires that the School Board submit its budget by mid-January in order to include the numbers in the County Administrator’s recommended budget to the Board of Supervisors. The executive summary contains a timeline showing that the first budget development work begins in May. It ends when the School Board reconciles its budget with that of the Board of Supervisors, generally in early April, nearly a year after the process begins.

    Having the budget work sessions in the midst of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas isn’t easy for staff or Board members either, but we can’t have them earlier because it takes time to develop the budget and we can’t have them later because the County wants a number from the School Board. FYI, there are still meetings on Jan 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th.

    The efficiency review currently underway is not an audit… it is an independent, outside efficiency review and will hopefully turn up opportunities for savings. I have already been interviewed as part of this process, and I’ll blog about it sometime in the coming month.

    Eric, I think the 90% capacity figure is perfectly reasonable. It isn’t desirable to fill every classroom to exactly 100% capacity due to varying levels of interest among students in various courses, our rapidly growing population and the need to plan for contingencies. Even so, most schools are over 100% capacity. Trying to have a kid in every seat in every classroom during every block on every day would practically require realigning every school boundary every year, and even then it isn’t perfect as kids move in and out of the county every day. Even the budget hawks on the School Board aren’t under the impression that we’re overbuilding school capacity. We have no room for full-day kindergarten, we are over 100% capacity at many if not most schools. Finally, to echo a point raised by Mr. Ohneiser at the CIP work session last month, imagine that a school suffers an incident and needs to be closed temporarily for some horrible reason. There isn’t room at other schools for those kids to which those kids could be dispersed. I recommend that you study the CIP document and the capacity numbers, and then let’s talk some more.

  • Lee j says:

    Mr Stevens do you all take in account in this serious downturn in housing and the fact 28% of all homes listed in loudoun are in foreclosure or a form of. that raising taxes significantly could do even more serious harm to existing residents that many are barely hanging on. Yes we want a good education for our children but as times get harder and harder in Loudoun and around the country. All municipal and state and school budgets must reflect the fiscal times. Next year is predicted to be perhaps significantly worse in the building business both commercial and residential and real estate values will continue to drop perhaps significantly. Further as home sales decline especially new homes shouldn’t the student population decline with it?????? I think we may be coming to a crisis situation in our County and school budgets for years to come. Being in the building business the general population especially at first always live in denial that home prices can drop that much and the bottom and recovery can take that long.

    I am a survivor of 6 successions in the building industry and I believe as most others in my business (except Realtors :) but that is just their nature ;) )this will be the worse down turn ever with the worst still to come in commercial which is just now starting to see a decline and residential.

    I think you all are wanting to write checks that this county will not be able to afford for years to come. Call it tough love between the residents reining in a school budget that this county will not be able to afford and crushing people economically with high taxes.

    Lee j

  • So John, what is your general assessment of the budget and do you feel that, as a board member, the process affords you the chance to fully understand and identify if and where excesses may be?

    And thank you for your service to the county and your time here today.

  • Lee j, I was talking with a county demographer several weeks ago. If we didn’t allow another person in the county for the next five years, you still have a large wave of kids that will be heading into the system that are not yet of school age.

  • John Stevens says:

    Lee, I hear ya, but the demographic projections are made by people who we hired to be good at this, and they have yet to get it wrong.

    EB, I’m going to give you a qualified yes for the time being and ask you to tune into my blog starting next week for more detail.

    This thread has gotten WAY off topic. Back to wishes for 2008… mine is that the SB, BOS and towns develop an effective working relationship for the budget, CIP and land acquisition processes.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll says:

    John,

    Forgive me but I do not see how only recognizing that 90% of the available seats actually exist on a mega-level allows us to account for the popularity of one class over another. IF we increase the recognized seat number to those actually there, there will still be some oversized classes and some undersized classes on the micro- level but the ENTIRE school will be fully used.

    “Even the budget hawks on the School Board aren’t under the impression that we’re overbuilding school capacity. We have no room for full-day kindergarten, we are over 100% capacity at many if not most schools.”

    Sorry but I don’t see many budget hawks on the School Board right now – please no offense intended. Furthermore, the statement that we are at 100% capacity at many or most schools is based on the 90% figures – circular reasoning. Finally, we have no room for full-day kindergarten because the original school design had no accomodation for full-day kindergarten. I fail to see why the 90% figure should be applied to that issue.

    Mr. Ohneiser’s scenario should not be the basis for a systematic 10% fluff built into capacity figures. It should be a scenario that should be evaluated and contingency plans built for on its own merits. Clearly there would be a better solution to such a scenario than that being applied right now.

    Finally, I have reviewed the CIP, I sat on the County “audit” committee and the 90% figure was never adequately addressed for that committee. Clint Thomas did a marvelous presentation on the ramifications of recognizing the true capacity figures in the CIP. It is publically available at:

    http://www.loudoun.gov/controls/speerio/resources/RenderContent.aspx?data=NODcHKSK5YxLk5AyVaWwncNhKTxuKG1Q3i7DMqJIg3G0i7sZW1uRKqU%2f2kjjs%2bNMdsNJJU%2fXpEQak3%2bHeSl4mHD5wNMTPdXU11dXNcTJC5WOySq9awd6aEyRc5PIcGq6mYEAqVdfo0m%2btPqRhsL%2b7WYnqmKv7QZjmWqFX%2bCXpkLgHFpdUossu%2bG4O2TvbbhT%2fiebj4%2fjjM06NCOiQgDAwJqsA6X9q3we7mW%2fJLuZjNIa8xb582LuopflknxQHO9nmhl29Wag2lccuyACiTZ%2b9rR1%2bE6LeRwp9zHjQZO83KMez9%2bik4r%2bFC3pKbHxqSckBy%2bWQTrCBZRKuacUYiHiwlYcWHD1JgPDIqQ%2fEw1a%2fevaAuxbWosgz9kCK1HxdZ5kaxPrCXW6496DE%2b%2b6I%2fiaAs7aO8%2b690lmEzvWnFynlmYPA9s3uKxoZQr6uv18XNrEGAz2MijpC6t9I0ZUOEknNw%2bbVxnDjttESv6%2bgUKdmgu6SzeNoZLOsyoBr8wcm%2ftK&tabid=312&fmpath=%2fBoard+Standing+Committees%2fFinancial+Performance+Audit+Committee

    I hope that large URL posts. Take a look – the details are in the presentation.

  • G. Stone says:

    Go visit the Website for your local LC High School. After careful review of that schools personnel, tell me with a straight face our middle and high schools are not bloated. The size of these admin staffs within schools housing from 1200 to 1800 students are ridiculous.

    We have allowed the LCPS, both boards, educrats, eduwonks and the teachers union to build a gold plated system. A system for which we cannot afford. A system that eats 75% of every tax dollar.A system that must learn to accept NO.

    This school system and current economic trends are on a collision course.

  • Lee j says:

    This school system and current economic trends are on a collision course.
    —G. Stone

    Stone that says an awful lot about the future reality!!!!

    And turning down projects like Kincora shows our last gropu of supervisors don’t understand urban styly housing which brings in tax dollars with singles and empty nester’s and far far far fewer children then suburban style development. I hope our new planning commisioners and supervisors can see the difference In an urban development compared to a suburban development or town center. Arcola for example is not an urban development it is more of a town center development with the same old style shopping centers with oceans of parking and big box stores and will bring in ton’s of new children when the economy gets healthy again many years from now. Loudoun one will not and either would Kincora if it was approved and of course it was a slap to Lori Waters to boot. We need singles and empty nesters in this county to help supply the work force and balance the suburbs with the zillions of kids. :) We need the urban developments to increase the tax base and we need urban housing that comes with it which will also help the tax base. That is why I wish we had a world renowned successful planning firm on retainer in Loudoun to assist our planning commissioners and supervisors to make well informed decisions on the billions of dollars of future development that will happen in Loudoun once the metro comes out here and to help fix the road problems.

    I think the county is growing beyond civilian and non professional planners the future is getting very complex to not have at least a world class planning firm at least on retainer for expert advice.

    Lee j

    Lee j

  • Bubba says:

    Why does Eric the 1/2 troll want to embarress Sandra Chaloux? To put her in any kind of debate with Barbara Munsey would be like leading a sheep to the slaughter. Sandra Chaloux will have her hands full with her new position and not have time to self inflict wounds that she will never recover from.

    You may not like Barbara Munsey but she would eat Sandra Chaloux alive in a debate on most any subject. Chaloux could not handle her when Barbara was questioning her on the Planning Commission and nothing other than a change in positions has occured.

    Leave Sandra alone and give her time to get to know her new job. I dare say it will take a couple of years.

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    I don’t want to burst a baloon, but Kincora went thru. Lori did hold them to a higher commercial space percentage to residential in exchange for her vote.

    Bubba….yeah. Right. I think you have it reversed. Sandra was the only one to ever give Babs a black eye (in her professional capacity). And the only way Babs has EVER BESTED anyone is with loads and loads of obsfucation. She can’t stand on any solid ground, so she tends to set the argument all over the terrain until she wears down her opponent, and they get tired of chasing her fleeting mistruths.

    Chaloux will be twice the planning Commissioner Munsey ever was, and she’ll treat people like people, too.

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    Lee, I goofed. I was thinking of Arcola.

  • Lee j says:

    10 feet no problem :) I will say as I said before Kincora and Arcola are two very different types of developments Acola being a suburban type town center which will attract families with plenty of kids and the some old types of retail and office. It does have some nice features to it tho.

    Kincora is a very urban type development that would of attracted a very different demographic such as singles and empty nester’s and not near the families with children that want to live in a dense environment that would of attracted more of an upscale retail and restaurants and office. With more emphasis on walking or biking to work and shopping and going out for entertainment and eating. We need more of the Loudoun Ones and Kincora’s if we ever want to get out of the endless cycle of too many kids and not enough singles and and empty nester’s to round out the demographics of Loudoun County and slow down the school spending spiral.

    ((((((These new supervisors and their civilian planning commissioners need to learn the difference between urban housing and suburban housing and the different demographics each attracts. So the right type of urban housing and urban commercial developments that will also attract an more upscale retail and office that can be built in the future that will increase the tax base with way way way fewer children and a different mix of retail and office then what we are seeing in every retail and office center being built today. And that is my wish for Loudoun in this new year and for our new supervisors. :) )))))))))))

    Lee j

    Lee j

  • Green Elephant says:

    My wish for Loudoun County is the LCRC gets it act together, elects a new chairman, institutes a new committee, one that will actually represent the diverse Republican community we have. The LCRC needs to welcome home all Republicans, drop the purity check and work together. Together Republicans will prevail, divided we fall as we have seen during the last election cycles. The LCRC needs to get back to the ideals of the the party, less government and less taxes!

  • Ben Dover says:

    Greetings to all. I regret my prolonged absence, but I’ve been on a complete and total bender since 11/7. Wishes for 2008:

    1) That the new BOS project itself with respect and decorum (internally and externally). They have a nasty set of challenges in front of them – it will be extremely important to project a united front, and to communicate very clearly with the public.

    2) That in the face of a massive revenue shortfall, a spending freeze (ala Nixon’s “price freeze”) be implemented, and that the current tax rate remain at or modestly above it’s present level.

    3) That Todd Kaufman’s entire department (County Assessor’s Office) be eliminated as a proactive cost cutting measure. Simply assign a 25% reduction in property values across the board. Re-establish the Assessor’s office when property values begin to rise (mid-2009).

    4) That toll plaza’s be erected on all roads that go to the WVA border. We need new tax revenue – might as well get it from WVA residents. This would also help to alleviate congestion on our roads as it would likely force many to consider public transit – Loudoun could offer public transit to the WVA residents and realize another new revenue stream.

    5) Finally, I would like to see Loudoun increase tourism by hosting some kind of massive beer festival.

    These are but my simple wishes for next year.

    Happy New Year to all.

  • vacliff says:

    Ben-
    Amen to #5!

  • Jose Kinusee says:

    Happy New Year to all at TC,
    What a great year it’s been.
    To have our county up righted, you see,
    From the terrible shape it’s been in.

    LI and his posse have said it the best,
    That integrity and honesty rule the day.
    And this can be seen with a little jest
    From the TC fingers at play.

    What will the future hold for Loudoun County?
    That remains to be seen from the new BOS board.
    Us bloggers hope for the best that can be
    For we know the pen is mightier than the sword.

    So don’t give up the fight to say what’s right
    And keep the fair posts a’coming.
    For we all know that it’s easy to lose sight
    When we sit around and do nothing.

    Happy new year to all– including Mr. ED,
    And Buckley and Burton and Burk.
    And waters, and McKimsey and York, the head,
    And don’t forget Miller and an ole gal named Kurtz.

    Happy New Year!! Go Hokies!!

  • Laura V says:

    My wish for Loudoun is a political atmosphere where honesty and integrity is not viewed as naïve and novice, where issues are debated on their merits with great intellect and understanding, not merely the political affiliation and/or any other imagined or real affiliation of those that bring those issues forth, and where descisions are made based on reason, ethics, logic, and yes, compassion NOT FEAR – and also the ability to bring our youth to a County Board meeting and not have to explain why our elected officials are acting like lunatics. I think we are almost there on the second one – with the exception of one remaining lunatic.

  • Curious Bystander says:

    Ben
    why do you call for the elimination of the Assessor’s office?

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    Bubba,

    I didn’t say Barb should speak in front of Sandra. No I asked Loudoun Rabble Rouser if she was going to speak in front of Sandra – unless you are saying that LRR is really…NO…it can’t be!!

  • Ben Dover says:

    Curious Bystander -

    My desire to eliminate the County Assessor’s office isn’t particularly serious, but I do believe that this year’s property assessment process will be extremely interesting to watch.

    I think that there will be tremendous pressure on the Assessor’s office this year as residential property values have diminished, and as our County acknowledges a $250 MM revenue shortfall.

    I predict that the Assessor’s office will produce valuations that fail to mesh with reality and that you will hear an audible “Howl” from the masses. Mr. Kaufman has already gone on the record to state that commerical and land valuations continue to accelerate. Maybe this is true with commerical valuations, but from my vantage point, raw land valuations have dropped. We’ll see what happens soon.

  • Lee j says:

    Ben Dover after reading this in the WP I think you better be careful what you say about that office ha ha ha ha ha :) You might be attacked next ha ha :)

    http://loudounextra.washingtonpost.com/blogs/living-loco/2007/dec/31/county-assessor-blog-post-misleading/

  • Lee j says:

    This is from the WP today. I don’t get it most likely our real estate taxes are going to go up there is a raise in the tax on our homes and cars and car repairs as of Jan and we are not raising the real estate tax on businesses like fairfax is doing. Here is a quote from the wp article and we will now get to sit in some of the worst traffic in the country when a small raise in commercial real estate tax would go a long ways to help some of our local traffic jams. What gives here????????

    (((The General Assembly also gave Northern Virginia governments the option of increasing the real estate tax rate on shopping centers, office buildings and other commercial property by as much as 25 cents for each $100 of assessed value.

    Prince William and Loudoun counties have decided not to raise the tax rate. Fairfax County is expected to approve an increase of about 10 cents. It could raise an additional $100 million for transportation improvements. Until now, residential and commercial real estate in Fairfax have been taxed at the same rate. Other jurisdictions are considering whether to raise that tax.

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    Could they be trying to make Loudoun a better choice to bring Commercial ventures into?

  • Lee j says:

    Well if the money from the taxes were used for substantial road improvements could out way the tax increase for a far better quality of life for their employees. Janella Farms number one complaint is they can’t attract enough workers because of the traffic nightmare. I am sure that weighs heavily on all new businesses that are thinking about moving here. Although we are going to go into a very slow commercial market for the next many years so I am not sure what is going to take to lure quality new businesses to Loudoun, but substantial improvements to the road system would go a long ways.

    Has anyone been caught in the new nightmare of traffic over by wegmans lately caused by the new stores. And they center is mostly empty I just can’t imagine how bad it will get when the center fills up. Pacific is years away from being finished even tho it is almost funded about to go under construction. Double right turn lanes from pacific to waxpool could help a tiny bit. But overall it is just an absolute nightmare a lot of the time right now and going to get a lot worse.

  • CommonGroundGirl says:

    Many local governments around the country are facing the same revenue shortfall problems as Loudoun. Here are a few ideas on how to cut spending:

    1. Hold the line on taxes and cut spending by 10% across the board for all county services;
    2. Growth has slowed so it would be wise to streamline the building and development department. Sell off the fleet of government cars that supported these folks too.
    3. Hire a Superintendent of schools at half of Hatrick’s salary who can come up with a budget that is in line with what the county can afford.
    4. Conduct a pro-active audit of government services to identify cost savings areas. Many departments have two or three individuals working on the same program (i.e. Department of Family Services).
    5. Institute a broad hiring freeze, a furlough day for managers making more than $75,000 and a cut in non-personnel spending.
    5. Work to increase state funding for schools. The heavy reliance on local property taxes to finance public schools creates inequities in school resources and the burdens placed on local taxpayers.
    6. Consolidate or privatize community centers.
    7. Stop asking residents to vote on transportation bonds. Now that county residents are paying those new seven taxes and fees (effective today) into the NVTA, we may be able to get a few roads now and then. One of the first in the pipeline is Jim Burton’s traffic calming project in front of his house in Aldie for $1.5 million (Visit http://www.thenovaauthority.org/meetings.html, click on 6 year projects and search for “Aldie.” You’ve got to love those priority projects that will help slow down the country traffic.
    8. Reverse the Howard Hughes Medical Institute tax break. Let’s get them back for always publicly complaining about the traffic, housing, etc.
    9. Don’t spend the next 4 years trying to revise the comprehensive plan again. It took over six years of staff time, thousands of legal fees and taxpayer dollars.
    10. Eliminate non-core school programs like Mandarin Chinese that benefits 20 or so students per year.

    Happy New Year.

  • Curious Bystander says:

    CGB – excellent suggestions. A couple of comments:
    1. From what I’ve heard, depts have already been told there will be cuts in their base budget for the rest of 08 and into 09.
    2. B&D can definitely be trimmed. The Code Enforcement (Inspectors) Division has 100+ employees alone.
    3. The BOS has to hold the line with the schools.
    4. There are programs that overlap in several depts (e.g., teen programs in MH/MR, Parks and Rec, and DFS). Consolidate and cut back.
    5. The County traditionally implements hiring freezes in Jan (although they didn’t last year). There should be plans for one to start asap.

    3.

  • 10 feet tall and Bulletproof says:

    Very good .
    I can only argue one.
    HHMI got their tax break because they:
    A.) Built where no other entity was interested in building.
    B.) They conformed with the elements to create a “green” building on that non-buildable portion of their lot.
    Leave their tax status as is. They conformed to a great many issues in order to get that status on that portion of their compound.
    Stop making them out to be the badguy. Smaller minds do that…not great thinkers.

  • Lee j says:

    I agree with 10 feet tall and Bulletproof HHMI is one of the big bright spots in this county and brings us some stability and could be the conerstone of an whole new growth industry here. We are certainly losing AOL and and Verizon does not seen too keen on expanding much at the old MCI but beautiful campus.

    Orbital is another bright spot.

    We will have a major problem in attracting first class businesses until one we improve the overall road system including an extension of one kind or another of the toll rd as a an non toll rd or a less costly toll road built like the George washington parkway with no commercial development along it to west virginia. Don’t laugh or scream about this, it is our only hope to access cheaper housing for our work force.

    Right now we are going back to finished see through buildings all over the dulles corridor and beyond. It is going to be a tough many years in commercial building and leasing as well as in housing. This is going to reflect in worsening traffic by the hour and higher taxes.

    The school system is our biggest albatross and must be brought under control or they will either send our taxes through the roof and with an 28% foreclosures and troubled housing and this is growing as a percentage of homes listed for sale. Many people are in serious trouble financially in this county and it is just the tip of the iceberg.

    There are many tough decisions and solutions that must be made and is this new group of supervisors up to it ??? We will see.

    We have the lowest poverty rate in Loudoun in the nation but that may soon change if we do not take back control of this county and get roads built and cheaper housing (road to west Virginia??) Business will not move here in an meaningful way if those are not solved.

    Further we are going to see a cut back in this area in federal spending on private contractor spending soon and that is going make the picture grimmer. It is already happening.

    We must recognize these problems to solve them not ignore them or they will get much worse then need be.

    Lee j

  • Jose Kinusee says:

    The challenge now is for the Department of Economic Development to start earning their keep. However, I believe it is time for new blood and find someone who has fiscal responsibility and not empire building at heart. With regard to the EDCommission–it is a useless group dominated by the development interests and untalented managers and leaders.

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