Transportation Eats Up More Than Half of Loudoun’s Capital Budget

For the first time, more than half of the county’s six-year construction plan will be dedicated to transportation projects.

The Board of Supervisors’ finance committee got its first look at the latest draft of the county’s Capital Improvement Program, which lays out major investments and upgrades in the county over the next six years. According to a presentation by county budget staff members, projects in the Capital Improvement Program are more than half paid for with debt financing, such as issuing county bonds. Other major sources of funding include the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, local tax funding, and state and federal funding. Cash proffers and fees also figure.

Loudoun is unusual among Virginia counties in the amount of money it spends on road projects—or in that it spends money on them at all. Roads are traditionally a responsibility of the state, but the previous Board of Supervisors decided the state wasn’t keeping up. Since then, Loudoun has dramatically ramped up its spending.

According to the budget presentation, 53 percent of the county’s $2.373 billion six-year proposed plan—$1.266 billion—will be spent on transportation projects. That dwarfs the next biggest expenditure in the capital budget, school projects, at $484.3 million.

Budget staff members said the proposal accelerates funding for transportation projects to support congestion relief and safety, reflects the county’s applications for other sources of regional and state funding, and provides funding for projects to create access to future Metro stations.

The draft capital budget would also accelerate design of expanding the Fire and Rescue Academy, currently slated for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 and plan for a new recreation center in western Loudoun.

The proposal also includes all of the School Board’s requested six-year capital plan, including expanding full-day kindergarten, one new middle school, the ongoing turnover and update of the bus fleet, future school renovations and construction, and the expansion of broadband internet to western Loudoun schools.

Department of Management and Budget Director Erin McLellan said the county could study whether it might piggyback off of the school system’s work to bring broadband internet to its western schools to expand that access to western Loudoun homes.

Although supervisors on the finance committee received the full proposed Capital Improvement Program on Tuesday night, the county will not release it to the public until Wednesday evening, when County Administrator Tim Hemstreet will formally present his Fiscal Year 2019 proposed budget, including both the operating and capital budgets. Details of the projects and changes in the Capital Improvement Program will be available then.

Supervisors will then begin debating that draft of the budget and adjust it to their liking. They are scheduled to take a final vote on April 3. Fiscal Year 2019 begins July 1.

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