Class warfare, Loudoun style

SO here’s a familiar story.

First, ram through policies that entail massive increases in government obligations by turning private gains into public costs.

Second, cut taxes.

Third, act mystified that God or nature or other forces totally beyond human control has produced a shortfall in the budget, and propose as a solution . . . cutting the programs that were the direct result of your own policies.

In Loudoun, we’ve seen this play out over the last two decades courtesy of the developer-infested GOP machine.

First they threw out the county’s balanced long-term growth plan and threw open the door to unbridled residential growth, giving Loudoun the fastest growth rate in the country and entailing massive new obligations to build schools and hire new teachers.

Second they started (especially with the new all-Republican Board of Supervisors that took office this January) bemoaning how high our taxes are, and vowing to cut taxes.

Third, last week they announced that the school budget for next year faces a $68 million “shortfall” and thus needs to be whacked down.

It’s been the simplest arithmetic fact that growth does not pay for itself at the rates Loudoun has experienced it. Every new pupil — and we’re still adding 2,500 a year to the total school population thanks to the Dale Polen Myers/Bruce Tulloch/and now Scott York (R-Kincora) Board policies — costs $11,000 per year in school instructional costs. Every new student adds about $20,000 to the capital budget for new school construction. A family with two new school age children that buys a new home in Loudoun thus increases the school budget costs by about $25,000 (instructional costs plus principal and interest on new school capital construction).

Now, with a current tax rate of $1.235 per thousand hundred dollars of assessed value, that means that unless every new home built costs $2 million-plus, thereby generating $25,000+ in property taxes, the only way to pay for this continued growth brought to you by the developer-infested Loudoun GOP machine is by increasing the tax rate on everyone.

But now, our very developer friendly Board is proposing to whack the school budget . . . acting as if it were simply sort of greediness or profligacy on the schools’ parts that explain their insatiable appetite  for more money. But you can’t add 2,500 students a year and keep the budget level. And Loudoun’s per-pupil instructional costs are already by far the lowest in the Washington area ($11,000 per pupil per year, compared to about $18,000 in Alexandria and Arlington, $15,000 in Montgomery, and $13,000 in Fairfax).

It’s been a great trick for the developers and and speculators to take the money and pass off the costs to the rest of us.

It’s a neater trick for the Loudoun GOP to pass itself off as the party of fiscal responsibility after having tripled our property taxes over the last two decades as a direct result of their developer-friendly policies. The party of “small government” has been the engine of Loudoun’s massive increase in government over the last two decades, and is now looking to blame someone else for their own actions so they can keep that fiction alive.

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