Mixed Reviews

Mixed Reviews

Residents Respond to Proposed Budget

Lou Gross Louis accused the Loudoun County School Board of being a school-yard bully at the public hearing on the proposed county budget Wednesday, March 1.

Louis doesn't have any children in Loudoun County Public Schools and doesn't have a problem with local gangs. The resident of Leisure World, an active community for adults over the age of 55, is tired of paying taxes on services that he does not use.

"We plow our own roads," Louis said.

The senior citizen suggested the Board of Supervisors take a broad look at all Loudoun County residents.

"We are tired of unfair assessments and insulating taxes," Louis said.

Loudoun County Public Schools special-education teacher Mary Young voiced a different opinion at the public hearing.

Young asked the Board of Supervisors to adopt the school budget and encouraged them to support funding for mental-health services.

"We need to fund mental-health services, especially day services and behavior and support services," she said.

LOUDOUN COUNTY residents filed into the Loudoun County Public School Administration Building to give their opinions on government spending for fiscal year 2007.

Many parents and teachers attended the hearing in support of the proposed School Board's proposed budget, which totals $980 million.

Dulles resident Cliff Keirce spoke out against the proposed school budget, especially its proposed increase of teacher's salaries by 9.2 percent.

"They haven't had any problems filling teachers' positions," Keirce said.

Catoctin resident Jennifer Shea said she doesn't want just any teachers but the best teachers filling Loudoun County Public School positions. She supports the proposed increase in teachers' salaries. In order to attract the best teachers, she said Loudoun needs to compete with the best school systems across the country.

"The pieces of the puzzle will not connect without adequate financial support," she said. "The end result will be strong, well-rounded students."

Keirce criticized the School Board for requesting millions of dollars for Palm Pilots and LCD screens in classrooms.

"These are luxuries, not necessities," Keirce said.

FELLOW DULLES resident Al Maghamez is concerned about the county's spending. He said his taxes increased 49 percent over one year.

"My salary didn't increase either," Maghamez joked.

The home owner urged the Board of Supervisors to put a limit on how much property tax can increase in one year.

"It shouldn't be more than 10 or 15 percent," he said.

The Board of Supervisors proposed plan for fiscal year 2007 would reduce the real property tax rate by 7 cents, from $1.04 to 97 cents.

The tax bill of the average homeowner would increase 19.8 percent or $841, said Ari Sky, Loudoun County Department of Management and Financial Services.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the county's real property tax increase Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m., at the County Government Center in Leesburg.