Schools Win Funding

Schools Win Funding

Schools Win Funding

The Board of Supervisors considered using $3 million of the nearly $6.8 million that the legislature provided in additional education aid for general fund purposes rather than schools.

The motion failed, despite arguments from three board members Tuesday. The supervisors had mandated $12 million in school budget cuts. The additional aid reduces that directive to $5.2 million.

Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said the school budget would reflect a 17 to 18 percent increase over last year even without the $3 million. "I would suggest finding an $8 million difference is achievable," she said, recommending against school officials buying laptops or giving full pay increases.

Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) told his colleagues they should send back the entire $6.8 million, because keeping it would be perceived as an endorsement of the state's tax increase. "This is tainted money," he said.

Mick Staton (R-Sugarland) said keeping $3 million is a reasonable compromise. "I hope in the future we can do a better job of controlling our spending," he added.

Vice-Chairman Bruce Tulloch reminded School Board chairman John Andrews that he had maintained the board would be comfortable with $5 million to $7 million in cuts. With the reductions at $5.2 million, "this should be a cakewalk for you all." He said he would support giving the schools the entire $6.8 million in aid, because he promised Chairman Scott York. "It's not without reservation," he said.

AFTER THE BOARD voted to 6-3 in favor of the full aid, Andrews thanked the members for their commitment to education.

The School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Superintendent's office on North Street to make final cuts in the FY2005 education budget. It had been waiting for the Virginia General Assembly and the Board of Supervisors to finalize their budgets.

The School Board had made a list of possible reductions including athletic, arts and language programs when it faced $12 million in cuts. That drew protests from county residents.

Andrews has predicted he and his colleagues could trim the budget now without cutting important programs.

In other business, the board referred an advisory opinion from the Office of the Attorney General regarding zoning and tax exemptions to the Finance Committee. The opinion said the current board may amend the zoning designation of property rezoned by the prior board. The opinion also said the board could repeal the ordinance adopted by the prior board exempting property from taxation by designation.

The supervisors agreed to lift the hiring freeze, and have the staff prepare a report on savings realized by the freeze. Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) pointed out that the hiring freeze was in effect before the new board took office.

In a memo, Tulloch said it is time to start hiring again, because the FY05 budget has been adopted and the county needs additional staff to implement the budget priorities.

REGARDING DEVELOPMENT, Tulloch said he attended a Planning Commission Monday night and learned that members of his board favor increasing residential development around the Dulles Town Mall. "I have a problem with that," he said. "I don't believe the town center mall was ever designed to look like Tyson's. I hope we would not look at higher densities around the mall."

Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said Lansdowne residents had met with the developers of a new town center and expressed concerns over three issues. They are troubled over the possibility of too much development and overcrowding at the elementary school. They also want a bigger athletic/recreation facility. Waters said she took note of the views, and another community meeting will be scheduled.

She also has scheduled a community meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Ashburn Fire House on May 26 to find solutions to traffic problems in the older section of the town. "Children have been close to being hit in that neighborhood," she said. "We need to address the whole traffic situation."

York recommended the board start the process of investigating outsourcing the new correctional center operations and food service and athletic field maintenance to calculate the cost savings.

Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said sometimes there is a conflict between public safety and profit, and profit often wins. He cautioned the board to look at this carefully to see if and how it was worked in other jurisdictions.

Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said Delgaudio came up with the idea during the budget process. Delgaudio suggested the board also look at privatizing many other services, including the planning staff and public relations staff. "I came up with the two most useless ones, in my opinion," he said.

York said he would not accept those recommendations as an amendment to his motion.

The board voted in favor of looking into the outsourcing.

MEMORY PORTER, legislative liaison, told the board that the legislature's car tax limit this year will cause shortfalls for the county in the future. The state's car tax reimbursement has been capped, so the board will either have to require residents to pay more in taxes in subsequent years or find another way to make up the difference.

She also noted that the General Assembly reduced Comprehensive Services Act funding by $1.25 million in FY05 and $2.25 million in FY06 with hopes that Medicaid will pick up the difference. If that doesn't happen, Porter said, the state will have to make up the funding next year, she said. The Act funds services for at-risk children.

She said lawmakers provided a three percent salary increase for state employees effective Nov. 25, 2004 and state-supported local employees, effective Dec. 1, 2004. Deputy sheriffs will receive a 4.82 percent salary increase effective Dec. 1.

The Governor will likely amend the budget bill on June 16, she said. Until this action occurs, the state budget is not final.


* Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said the county is conducting a study of fire and rescue delivery to ensure service is "second to none."

* Delgaudio said the board's Land Use Committee will consider Wednesday amending the Codified Ordinances of Loudoun County to limit occupancy in houses. He proposed the amendment to regulate residents who illegally convert their private homes into apartment complexes.

* The board voted to rezone about 193.7 South Riding acres from general industry to residential to develop 274 single family houses and 346 townhouses. The site is at the western edge of South Riding near the Freedom High School site along Riding Center Drive. Burton objected, saying it is inappropriate to change the zoning. "We continue to build houses down there," which only increases traffic, he said. Mick Staton (R-Sugarland) favored rezoning because the community and residents support the change. And the industrial use of the land would be incompatible. Tulloch weighed in on the matter. "I've actually fought against unreasonable, unwanted development around communities," he said. He supports this rezoning because he finds the community's reason for determining their own destiny compelling. The developer also has met the financial threshold necessary for the development, he said.

* The board sent a proposal to create a Health Care Commission to committee. Loudoun Health Care Task Force recommended the panel nearly two years ago. Its purpose would be to develop a consensus on strategies to improve the health of the county, to increase the value of the local health care system, to align community resources with selected priorities, and to identify where resources can be concentrated.

* The board approved two Emergency Medical Services (EMS) helicopter agencies establishing medical air evacuation bases in the Loudoun County at the Leesburg Municipal Airport. AirCare and MedStar are both licensed Virginia EMS agencies. Basing them in the county is expected to improve emergency response times.