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School Requests Irritate Burton

School district proposes CIP increase.

Supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer) questioned the School District's proposed Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2004-08.

The first two years of the CIP more than doubled the amount of funding approved by the Board of Supervisors last year. The superintendent's proposed CIP asks for $109.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2004, compared to $36.3 million as outlined in the CIP for FY03-08. The proposed CIP for 2004 adds two school renovation projects, high school ball field lighting and air-conditioning and heating system installments at an additional cost of $73.2 million.

The FY05 CIP adds a high school in the Purcellville area at an expected cost of $59.7 million to bring the total for the year to $107.8 million. Last year's funding request was for $50.9 million.

"What's going on here?" asked Burton at the Nov. 18 Finance and Government Services Committee meeting. "I was looking forward to a dip next year. Now I see something three times as high as I expected. This has to stop."

The CIP asks for another $250 million from a year ago. Staff said $145 million of the increase is for the cost estimates of undesignated schools and land acquisitions not listed last year.

"[This] open-ended renovation program grows leaps and bounds. You've gotten our attention again," Burton said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, staff presented a report on the county's proposed storm water management program that is required to meet federal and state mandated storm water permit requirements. The county is required to develop, implement and enforce a storm water management program in eastern Loudoun.

"This is an additional cost that is a factor in growth," said Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run), a member of the finance committee.

Storm water discharge is regulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The county is required to file a certificate of registration with the DEQ by March 10, 2003.

"It's a notice of intent, what we intend to do over the next five years to meet the requirements," said Burton, who is chairman of the finance committee.