Loudoun’s Taxes The Highest By Far! (Not Anymore – PWC is Higher)

By Loudoun Insider

The BOS last night approved a 10.5 cent increase in the property tax last night, from $1.14 to $1.24.5 (Loudoun Extra story here).  I’m sure more stories will file in as the day progresses.  I’ve been in a very busy work schedule this week – I’ll leave it up to you faithful TC readers to post up more stories and info in comments as the day goes by.

Update:  While PWC was at $0.97 last year, they will be at a combined general/fire& rescue rate of $1.28.2 this year, making it higher than Loudoun.  That doesn’t make me less upset about Loudoun’s tax rate, but if I were in PWC I’d be pretty unhappy right now.  That includes a 2.9% COLA for employees.  Whose cost of living is rising in these economic times?


Comments

  • LCPS have been increasing at a rate well above inflation plus student body growth. It is unassailable fact. It shouldn’t have happened, and now it shold be reversed. But that will only happen with real political courage, which seems to be in short supply on the BOS.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Over 630,000 jobs lost last month, things ain’t getting any better.

  • sally says:

    #97
    It does not take a genius to see the grand facilities the the School Board is building, the expansive sites they are buying, and the lavish specs they expect for buildings.

    It is like saying “we can’t build a house without granite in the kitchen and top of the line appliances, they are an investment.” “Our family will suffer without stainless steel.”

    Truth is we can spend a lot less without sacrificing the academic program.

    I have a lot of recent and current experience with schools, and am perfectly suited to make a judgment. Disagree with me, fine, but quit with the ridiculous assumption that because I do not have a child in the system, my opinions should be discounted.

    You, on the other hand, have no clue what you are talking about and just take a political hack position.

    How about those white boards, did you look up how much they cost yet?

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Sally, you sound like a vegetarian critiquing the food at a steakhouse.

    You, someone who’s been in the county a real long time (3-4 years) and with no kids in the public school systems (just private school), you seem to feel that your are best to judge the merits of the Loudoun system and it’s budget. Over the teachers and administrators and students and parents that make up the people in the system. That’s my point. I’m sure you wish for a rebate on your taxes that go to schools since you don’t use them, probably advocate a 100% voucher system, possibly you don’t want a public school system at all. I really don’t care, but when an actual parent of a Loudoun student states his/her opinion and you give the reply you did, it’s just really stupid on your part.

    The non-Republicans who read these threads get it. A lot of you guys want yours, and that’s as far as you care.

    The funniest thing you wrote here is the “they can eat at their desks” comment. Reminds me of the goofy old guy who used to advocate, here in Fairfax, that girls in school didn’t need PE, the kids don’t need cafeterias and gyms (“the boys can play outside”). That kind of stuff.

    Basically, it sounds like you want to build a 1980′s school in 2000′s. Great, that’s real progress.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    White Boards vs. astro turf fields….ummmm. Yeah you all got real problems up there in Loudoun.

  • sally says:

    Not John,

    My family has owned property in Loudoun for more than 250 years, and has lived here continuously all that time.

    My great grandfather rode with Mosby, by the way, and his Loudoun farm is still in our family, just a stone’s throw away from where I live. He was wounded on property within walking distance of me in March 1864 and for some reason the Union soldiers spared his life (they were under orders to kill all of Mosby’s men), and he spent the rest of the war in a hospital in Washington.

    My parents have always owned property in Loudoun.

    Do you live in Loudoun? Do you have kids in school here?

    Doubt it.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Sally, Have you read any of Loudoun Author Barbara Holland’s books? I just read “Bingo Night at the Fire Hall” and it is about her moving into her mother’s cabin in the 1970′s (after her mother died) in Hilltop and all the families in the area that are descended from the Civil War, specifically Mosby. I’m sure you are familiar with Holland, but it was a nice book and worth the read.

    Not John Mosby – I have kids in the system and pretty much agree with Sally. You don’t have to have a child enrolled here to assess the situation correctly. I know plenty of people with kids in the system that are completely oblivious as to how school construction is financed, how a property tax is collected, how much of the overall County budget the schools take up, what a white board costs. These people blindly vote for every bond and listen to the PTA and nod their heads because it is “for the children”.

  • NJSM is a loyal Democrat just looking out for one of their prime constituencies in the education lobby. Loudoun schools are bloated out of proportion and need to be scaled back in these lean times. Period.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    G Stone: I follow the arithmetic, but, if the tax you have to use (because there are no other options for local governments) is an ad valorem tax on deemed values of real property, yeah, the tax rate will go up when the property values go down, all other variables being equal. Of course, not all other variables are equal and a lot of the inputs can be juggled, including the overall size of the budget. But in most of Northern Virginia, we’ve had substantial population growth, Loudoun certainly being no exception. With that kind of growth you get a lot of new demands on local budgets, from police, to schools, to infrastructure, etc. etc. It’s pretty hard to hook up an accurate gauge to what’s good fiscal policy in these circumstances, but one very valid indicator is the sentiment expressed by Pragmatist (#95). He/she says that her perception is that she’s getting an adequate level of service for what she pays in taxes and bases this, in part, on her general satisfaction with the school experience of her two kids. This isn’t the end of a very important discussion (Another item to thank LI for starting), but it is and important measurement of the quality of local government.

    I remain in a sulky funk that no one is taking my bait on getting rid of the the property tax altogether (Nos. 20, 26). I think a lot of the problems of local tax/fiscal policy stem from issues surrounding this kind of tax, as opposed to the budgetary elements themselves. In any event, I think it would be easier for the average citizen to evaluate fiscal performance of local units if the taxes were clearly coming from income, as opposed to oscillating estimates of unrealized real property market values.

  • AFF says:

    HFTB,

    As Alfred very clearly and articulately demonstrated, the real answers don’t come easily, or at first glance. I appreciate watchdogs looking out for our tax dollars, but I detest the group mob mentality of the many who latch on to easy budgetary solutions, as though they actually existed.

    Sally,

    You finally got something right on a post! I AFF am in fact, a renter. While there are some (er, you apparently) who draw the conclusion that since renters don’t receive a personal property tax bill in the mail they are not “real taxpayers” and therefore unworthy of comment.

    I’m sure if you dig back you’ll remember the perimeters of the tenant landlord relationship, so I’ll spare you except to remind you that rental property isn’t exempt from property tax.

    Non-subsidized tenants pay their “property tax” monthly, in the form of rent. I’ll grant you that the tenant has the advantage of knowing their liabilities in advance, and doesn’t have to wait for a rate to be decided, assessment ect.

    While the argument can be weakly made that renters aren’t “real County taxpayers” the same can’t be said for tenants Federal tax responsibilities- Homeowners get the generous write off of their mortgage interest, with no similar write off for renters. I look forward to you excusing yourself from all Federal Tax Code discussions in the future.

    Due to all the hard times and sufferin’ within the family and such I’m fairly confident I pay a higher share of my income in taxes than you. Please don’t allude that I am somehow shirking my responsibilities, and don’t deserve a voice.

    NoVA Scout’s,

    I’ll bite. I like your idea

  • Alfred E. Newman says:

    AFF, I feel the love!

  • Good points, but it points out something I’ve never been able to rationalize (although governments and public employee unions certainly can!).

    Nearly all of our major taxes are proportional. So, if population rises, taxes brought in rise accordingly. SO WHY DOES THE RATE NEED TO INCREASE????? It’s because governments find new ways to spend OUR money. There is no reason for the school budget to expand at twice the rate of inflation plus student growth. NONE. Unless of course the amdinistration and school board keep dreaming up new ways to spend money – like Mandarin Chinese classes, deans for every grade, whiteboards, etc., etc. Governments are guilty of the same excesses that have gotten us into the economic mess we’re in.

  • Of course I understand the issue of home values vs. assessed rate, before anyone brings that up. The problem is the equalized rate has been increasing, just as an income tax would be rising if it were the primary way for local governments to make money.

  • sally says:

    AFF, I know who you are.

    I am not sure why you attack me so, anonymously. Really, you should try getting to know me instead of relying on mean spirited and jealous gossip of the horse set, who dreams on about my “development” to demonize me about putting lots in trust for my children. I have only asked to do what the law has allowed. In fact, I have asked for less lots than I would be allowed under my AR-1 zoning. Why don’t you come look at my plat some day?

    I am not part of a “mob” (like the mob you belong to which has maliciously blogged about me and attacked me without factual basis) but have real experience with education.

    As a parent, it is hard to know how you feel when you have not had a few children already finish public school. While you are in the midst of it, you trust the “professionals” often deferring your own judgement.

    But now, having been in so many different schools, and seen so many different facilities and styles, I have very solid opinions — and I can tell you our best experiences came from the schools with the most inferior facilities, that facilities really do not correlate with good education, and that the mindset that you must have all the bells and whistles is misguided. (I do think public schools should have cafeterias but should not go overboard on all the details.) As you look back at things, you see how you really needed less than you thought. Good teachers are really the key, and should be well paid, but their pay suffers because we buy all this other stuff we do not need. Even some teachers complain about all the things that are provided to them they do not use, and how they end up having to buy their own teaching materials anyway.

    There is a lot of room to cut the school board budget, and I think it is unconscionable that this Board has not done more given this economy. The elderly and fixed income folks may not be able to get to public hearings, but they do vote. The board should remember that.

    Our church fed 500 people this week and 500 people last week. One in four homes on the market in Loudoun are on the market because of foreclosure. People are really hurting, and it is not for me so much as it is for our community that I am strongly advocating fiscal restraint.

    The deficit will just compound in the next few years, and then it is guaranteed we will need more and more revenue to cover it.

    Just like the Bush administration was criticized for its trillion dollar deficit, the Obama administration is tripling the deficit–the interest alone would pay for every child in the US to go to college. All of our children will be paying for this with higher and higher taxes unless we reverse the course. I know I am off topic with the federal budget, but it is the same, only worse, as the Loudoun situation.

    We need to cut our borrowing, cut our spending and live within our means, lowering taxes at all costs, to spur small business here, give homeowners a break to spur the consumer economy, etc. People should, as much as possible, choose how to spend their own money, and many will choose to donate it to their school or for a special program. Your neighbor down the street, who just lost his job, should not be forced to finance such a lavish school budget.

    That’s my opinion, and I am trying to persuade others to see it. Take it or leave it.

  • HFTB says:

    AFF,

    Here’s an easy budget solution: cut benefits. If you read the WABE report, you know LCPS pays $26,185, or 43% of their salary, for teacher benefits. I’d love to hear the posters from the education lobby justify that figure.

    Good point by LI in #112. All those who want to blame rising taxes on growth conveniently ignore the larger tax base created by all those new homes. Individual homeowner tax bills should not have to increase by more than a factor of inflation.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    Run some numbers, folks. You’ll find that there’s not a straight line relationship between population growth and public costs. Nor is there a straight line relationship between population growth and tax revenue produced (the relationship is closer with income tax revenue, but it is really screwy with property tax revenue). Too many variables. In other words, if population in Loudoun increases 15% over a particular period, there will not necessarily be a 15% increase in property tax revenues or in outlay requirements. It may be more or less at a wide range of demographic breakpoints. These things are lumpy and out of phase with one another except in very general senses. That’s what makes it so damnably difficult to fund the major core functions of local government (infrastructure, public safety and education) out of an ad valorem tax. It’s hard in the abstract and it’s really hard in times like these when market values are whirling around.

  • I agree it isn’t directly comparable due to variations in home vlaues, but trust me, in Loudoun most of the new units going up are pretty pricey and bring in good taxes. But even if it’s slightly variable that doesn’t justify a rate of spending at over TWICE the rate of inflation plus population growth. That differential is just too much.

    Of course we know the main cause – governments simply use the growth as an excuse to spend more and more money. Of course they need to spend more, but they like to spend way more as they increase services and government beyond what is truly needed.

  • AFF says:

    Sally,

    I don’t post anonymously on this site in order to attack you. I would love to come and check out your plat someday as have I spent many happy hours in your “backyard”.

    Our families’ relationships go back a long way and I harbor no personal animosity towards you. I realize you have often felt ganged up on, but I assure you I have never discussed your zoning situations with anyone off of this forum- never

    In fact, I’ve been saving a copy of your letter (and attached email)regarding the solar array at Franklin Park because I intended to thank you- you know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

    When you began posting on the net I honestly did not know who you were, because I of course know you by a different name. Frankly, there are more than a few people on this site who I’ve meant to contact hat in hand in order to further real discussion.

    I realize my tone is, as my wife puts it, dickish- I sometimes read back on what I have written/posted and am surprised at myself. I certainly do not ever have a future in the public sector.

    Feel free to give me a call if you ever have anything you want to discuss- my number is in the book.

    As to what you wrote regarding the County/school Budgets. Well- as is often the case, we have more common ground than is evident at first glance.

    HFTB,

    We’ve been hearing about the benefits of a larger tax base for about, um, 30 years. Ask anyone who has spent some time in Loudoun. It hasn’t worked out so well.

    So far, more people had led a greater demand for more expensive services.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you build 500 houses, that may bring in X tax revenue a year. If those 500 new houses bring in families that each have 2-3 kids in school, then you need to build a school or two just for that influx of kids. The tax revenue from those houses most likely will not pay for those schools as well as the other services and infrastructure required to support those houses. You can hit builders for proffers and such, but when you are building at the rate Loudoun is, the law of large numbers starts hit hard and fast. You cannot pay for it as you go, and whatever tax revenue you bring in from the new homes will not cover the costs of the schools and such. Existing homeowners subsidize the new, or you don’t have growth.

  • sally says:

    AFF, my parents are very fond of you and your wife–and other members of my immediate family as well.

    #119 My opinion is, Loudoun has done a terrible job with proffers and getting builders to build what they need. Inadequate proffers, unenforceable proffers, and proffers which could have been enforced and were not.

    Fairfax managed to make the growth pay in a big way. They were better managed (J Lambert in their growth years) and had better planners/advice.

    Also, Loudoun has very expensive taste, excessively expensive taste, in my opinion, with very small schools, but very large campuses, and expensive amenities. Growth could have been a money maker, but Loudoun wasted it.

    Hope we do better in the future. For right now, I think we need to scale down on our desires, get back to basics, cut our expenses and live within our means. Otherwise we will find our deficit/debt compounding, and no ability to do anything except increase revenues.

  • pragmatist says:

    Loudoun Lady and Sally, I think you read a lot into my post that was neither expressed nor implied.

    The gist of my message was that for the roughly 5k per year that I spend per year on county property taxes, I feel I get a pretty good deal in the services I receive. Period.

    I’m pretty confident that the school system could do with less, but I don’t get apoplectic over the budget situation. There are other things in my life that worry me more.

    I also wasn’t suggesting that having my kids in Loudoun County schools is some magic ticket to get them into any school they want. I am confident, however, that if they continue to do well, they’ll have the opportunity to attend a good school that will further their ability to succeed in life. There are plenty of good colleges and universities in this country…I’m sure at least one of them will be willing to have my children as students.

    There was also a suggestion made that I’m selfish and judgemental towards others who can’t afford things as I can. Not sure where that came…I do quite a lot for others. For many years, I’ve been a volunteer fireman in this county and would hazard a guess that my volunteer coworkers and I save at least a penny or two on the tax rate each year. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I really take offense at being described as selfish.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    I understand your, reaction, Pragmatist, but just realize that there are some bloggers whose reaction to almost everything that seems a little off their perception of things is to lash out and to try to imply some sort of personal shortcoming in the commenter. It’s a bad trait, but it usually happens in a flash without a lot of thought. Sometimes, too, (although I don’t think this was the case in the comments you referred to) there is a bit of sarcastic humor intended, often good-natured, and it just doesn’t come across on the e-page with the twinkle of the eye or poke in the ribs with which it was transmitted.

    Your observation was a valuable one – that there is at least one citizen (probably you are representative of a large number of citizens) who feels they generally get their tax money’s worth out of county services. That is an important factor in assessing any local government. It’s a point of view often overlooked because those of us who spend (waste) our time on these blogs often are motivated by dissatisfaction with this or that. So it’s important to have your view. I saw nothing in your comment that implied selfishness, nor did I see anything that indicated you thought the chronic problem that all Northern Virginians face with getting their achieving kids into Virginia’s best schools would be solved for you. That is a different subject than you were addressing and is worthy of a separate post here or at another site.

    Thanks for your input.

  • Alfred E. Newman says:

    Is it really appropriate for a poster to target someone on this site by claiming that they know the identity of the poster? I have always thought the point of these blogs is to assure anonymity while providing an avenue to express one’s opinions. There has been an increasingly personal and threatening tone to this discussion. Just my opinion, but if I were administering this site I would put a stop to it immediately.

  • Lee J says:

    How about a bike coordinator at a 1oo plus grand a year as McGimsey just got into the budget. I believe this is some of the waste Sally is complaining about and if you dig hard enough you will find waste like that in the School system and every dept in loudoun. In times like these every dime should go to the important things like fighting crime especially in Sterling Park, not bike coordinators, teaching Chinese, white boards, schools that couls be built as two or three stories on less land and saving money by being more compact and multi story also saves money by using the same roof and foundation for those extra floors as well as more energy efficient. slightly larger classes. putting in trailers or expanding current schools and on and on.

  • sally says:

    pragmatist,

    I apologize if I was harsh in my comments.

    From my view, though, we have gotten used to excessiveness, to “needing” more than we really need, and to buying everything we want, and the School Board trying to justify it by hiding it or manipulation of numbers. I know there is a lot of money that could be cut from the school board’s budget, but we are not willing to make the hard, but practical, decisions.

    Some on other blogs did not believe that 1 in 4 homes currently on the market in Loudoun are there because of foreclosure. These are very unusual times, and it is nice that you have a secure job, and can pay your taxes easily, not selling your house for a huge loss, but we all need to think of those who are struggling, because the numbers are staggering.

    I know at our church, fine good people are quietly in tons of financial trouble. Even our church has sent out a letter that it is several hundred thousand behind this year in pledges, people who said they could pledge but then could not. Our church fed almost 600 people this week in a new program Grace to Go.

    Things may seem fine on the surface with your children’s friends at school, but it is much worse than many will admit, and it is going to get even worse. We need to make the most practical decisions now, to decrease our deficit, balance our budget and reign in our spending.

    You think of others, and you are getting a break this year. Some are not getting any break, and some are having their taxes go up. If property values have dropped, taxes should drop. The tax rate should stay the same.

    And the example of the bike coordinator at $109,000 is just an example of how out of touch this Board really is.

  • sally says:

    Loan modifications not working, loan defaults going in the “wrong direction” according to the FHA.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123869240399883065.html

    FHA looking for bailout?

    “Asked at the hearing whether the FHA would need a bailout, HUD Inspector General Kenneth M. Donohue said he couldn’t predict. “Based on the numbers we’re seeing, I think it’s going in the wrong direction,” he said.

    The FHA often finds itself balancing two sometimes competing goals: fulfilling its mission of providing affordable loans for first-time home buyers while remaining self-funded.

    In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Donovan said that the agency may need to sustain losses to keep backstopping lenders who otherwise wouldn’t make loans. “[W]hile we’re rightly concerned about the safety and soundness of FHA…we also need to be focused on the fact that credit is critical to the economic health of the country,” he said.”

  • sally says:

    Government policy for banks to make more bad loans? How is this helping?

  • HFTB says:

    I do not feel I am getting my money’s worth out of county services, especially the school system. The unassailable fact is that when you factor out growth and look at spending on a per-pupil basis, it has been increasing at nearly 3 times the rate of inflation. Has LCPS really improved that much as a result of all that spending? I don’t see it. It would be different if you took a really bad school system 10 years ago and transformed it into top-notch system, but LCPS was good then and it’s good now. No change that I can discern… except for maybe more BMWs parked over at Education Court!

  • G. Stone says:

    Tonight LCBOS board room.
    Let them hear from you !

    See you there.

Leave Comment