State of the County

State of the County

Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) told the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce that the county is ready to face the coming years.

"The fact is Loudoun County is well prepared for the future," he said. "We are a county of great resolve."

Tulloch gave the annual state of the county address to the Chamber of Commerce as part of the group's 2006 Policy Makers series. The speech was given on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.

"We put together this series so we can talk about the region's most critical issues," Mindy Williams, chairman of the board of directors, said.

In his speech Tulloch told the chamber about the positive things coming to the county, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to George Mason University's new campus to the new Inova research center. With all of the positives, however, Tulloch pointed out there were still a lot of problems to solve.

"There is a running theme here today," he said. "And that running theme is, what are we going to do about the traffic congestion?"

In all aspects of the county, Tulloch said Tuesday morning, it is important that all elected officials work together regardless of their political position.

"Bipartisan politics are what get things done and we need to get things done," he said. "Unless we all work together and walk in one step, we are not going to bring it home for [citizens.]

TRAFFIC, TULLOCH SAID, is the first thing people mentioned when asked about their major concerns for the county, but, he added, the problem was not going to get solved without help from the state level.

"The only way we can fix traffic congestion is if we fix it together," he said. "Richmond needs to hear from you. You need to energize them."

The vice chairman acknowledged it was going to be difficult to get funding for roads from the General Assembly in Richmond, joking it was the first thing he learned in office and said the county had to look to developers to help build needed roads.

"Everyone wants to villainize the developers, but villainizing the developers is not a good thing," Tulloch said. "If you are driving on a road in Loudoun County, chances are you are driving on a road built by developers."

Tulloch pointed out that there are 35,000 houses that could be developed in eastern Loudoun by right, which would require developers to provide no money for schools or for road improvements. By working with developers, he said, the county can get more of what it needs.

"We're trying to extract as much from them for our citizens as we can," he said.

School Board chairman Robert Dupree (Dulles), who attended the meeting along with School Board members, Priscilla Godfrey (Blue Ridge) and Robert Ohneiser (Broad Run), asked Tulloch about the board's decision to put a road project referendum on the November 2006 ballot. Dupree said the board had always worked to provide money for education, public safety and other county needs under a set debt capacity and he wanted to know how the board planned to add road construction to the list under the same debt capacity.

Tulloch told Dupree he personally did not believe it was time for the county to get into the road building business because he believes there are other priorities for the board to address.

"I will never put the priorities of our children below [roads]," he said.

Tulloch said he believed building roads with local tax revenue would create a double taxation of county residents because the state would still take tax money from the county to pay for road construction.

"I have a hard time double taxing the people of Loudoun County," he said. He added that if the people of the county voted for the referendum, he would honor their decision and do his best to see the projects through to completion.

AS FOR THE continued population growth of the county, Tulloch said it is a complicated issue that will be best dealt with through regionalism and a managed, long-term plan.

"No politician can tell you they can control [growth] because they can't," he said. He pointed out that the population would reach 500,000 people based solely on development approved by previous boards.

Tulloch told the chamber that the current Board of Supervisors was encouraging nonresidential development in order to increase the amount of tax money on the bottom line.

"The nonresidential vacancies are dropping," he said. "I am so happy to be able to stand before you and say that. The policies of the Board of Supervisors are producing more commercial viability."

Part of that viability, Tulloch said, will be continued growth and increasing tax revenue.

"I am pro managed growth," he said. "I believe if you don't have a county that's growing, it's dying."