Roads first, pupils last

Doing an uncanny imitation of the national Republican Party’s fiscal policies, our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors for the past year has been boldly declaring it has no intention of actually paying for the consequences of the county’s explosive growth that they themselves were responsible for.

According to the county’s own calculations, every new house built in Loudoun entails an additional $40,000 in new school construction costs and $6,000 a year in additional instructional costs. Thanks entirely to the very developer friendly policies of previous Republican boards, Loudoun continues to add some 3,000 new pupils to the school rolls each year, requiring $250 million worth of new school construction and requiring the school budget to increase by $33 million just to keep up with the growing school population.

Yet the Board had been insisting that the schools had to cut $56 million from their budget for the coming year in order to “hold down” taxes.

Last week the Board backed away from that fairy tale and substituted another, demanding that the entire budget of the county be held constant; thus if the school budget grows just to keep up with the county’s growing population, the county will still have to whack $33 million (plus the cost of debt service on a new capital outlay of $250 million) elsewhere in the budget.

Yet guess what the Board wants to protect from cuts? Yes, more roads for developers . . . so they can build more new developments . . . thereby adding still more to the pupil rolls . . . thereby driving up the costs to the county still higher. Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), even as he robotically agrees with the Board’s arbitrary commitment to hold the overall tax rate constant, wants a new “special” tax of several cents on the dollar just to pay for new roads. Here’s what he said in a recent “news[sic]letter”:

While I have a strong desire to hold the line on taxes, I also believe that our residents would be willing to pay a small amount in their tax rate if they knew it would be used for road construction specifically in Loudoun.  This budget line item could be the key to funding needed projects like the Route 606 widening.  Stay tuned over the coming few months for more about this proposal.

Here’s an idea: how about asking the people of Loudoun if they would support a few cents on their tax  rate to keep the quality of the educational opportunities for their children from declining — instead of giving away still more goodies to your developer friends at taxpayer expense?

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