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Board Approves CIP

Extended meetings leads to adopted fiscal plan.

The Board of Supervisors approved a $1.6 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP) over a two-day meeting, a plan that includes 14 school projects, construction of an emergency homeless shelter, park-and-ride lots, and new fire-and-rescue facilities in Aldie, Kirkpatrick Farms and western Loudoun.

Much of the discussion on the CIP surrounded the county's many school projects, particularly in areas where the population continues to grow. Currently the CIP has 14 school projects in it, including nine elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools.

Also included in the CIP was $170 million for transportation projects, which would supplement state-provided funds. The projects include roads to be designed and constructed with county revenue and funding for the Dulles Metrorail Project.

AT ITS April 17 business meeting, School Board Chairman Robert Dupree (Dulles) told the Board of Supervisors that a high school was needed in Dulles South by 2009 to relieve Freedom High School.

"The reality is we will need high school six, as we are looking at it, in Dulles South by then," he said.

To create more available money for the Dulles South high school in 2009, Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) suggested reducing the cost of the Monroe Advanced Technology Center from $107 million to $88 million and move the project to 2010.

"I asked Lewis Rauch [director of capital construction] to take a look at the program needs for the advanced technology academy to see what could be done to reduce the costs of the center," York said. "He is making the suggestion that we could potentially build a building that could facilitate the needs at $88 million."

Some supervisors said they were concerned about even approving the reduced cost of the technology center since the school would only serve 500 students at capacity.

"This is far more than a regular high school and it serves far less students," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "I have a real problem with that. One hundred, seventy-six thousand dollars per seat, I am having a problem even with that number."

FOLLOWING SUPERVISORS' concerns about the understaffing of the county assessor’s office, the board voted to support the idea of adding four full-time employees to the assessor’s office’s budget. The proposal was forwarded to the finance committee’s meeting on May 15. No costs for the four full-time employees have been set, but, if the positions were approved, the board would have to approve a fiscal year 2008 budget adjustment. An adjustment could lead to possible cuts in other areas of the approved budget.

With large increases in tax assessments over the last couple of years and complaints over the workings of the assessor’s office from residents, supervisors said the positions were greatly needed in order to ensure the county is doing its job properly.

"The board has been very supportive of helping to fix my office," Todd Kaufman, the county’s assessor, said.

ACCORDING TO statistics from the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers, Loudoun County's assessor's office deals with the largest number of land parcels in the state, 8,080 units. Fairfax County is responsible for 5,226 parcels, Alexandria is responsible for 4,754 parcels and Arlington County has 4,802.

"I only have 30 employees in my office," Kaufman said. "Based on industry standards, I should have 51."

While Kaufman did ask for the four employees during the regular budget deliberations, supervisors only brought the issue back up during discussion of the CIP.

"I’m just trying to get my office organized so we can provide most accurate assessments and the best customer service possible," Kaufman said.