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COMMISSION'S 20 CENT TAX HIKE

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6 PENNY "NO TAX HIKE" SOLUTION

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

BY: PAT HUNTER

 

THE HUNTER REPORT has received numerous questions about the proposed 20 cent tax purportedly to finance $43 Million of the Phase 1 School Building Plan, and the recent vote by the Loudon County Budget Committee. The Budget Committee is comprised of Budget Chair Estelle Herron (County Mayor), and Budget Committee members commissioners Don Miler, Bob Franke, Sharron Yarbrough, and Austin Shaver. The Budget Committee makes budget recommendations to the full commission for their consideration and vote.

After weeks and weeks of discussing the budget and voting on various budgets, it was time for the Budget Committee to vote on the distribution of pennies (setting the property tax rate). Pennies were distributed to various funds such as the 101 Operating Fund, which funds most of county government, the Library Fund, the School Operating Fund, Rural Fund Debt, which is used for debt, and other funds.

The Budget Committee had not received firm numbers from the school board for the cost of Phase 1 because of costly ($250,000) last minute changes to the new Greenback School drawings. But when it came to the Rural Fund Debt and funding Phase 1 Building Program (see below), Budget Committee member Don Miller discussed 15-16 pennies, which could finance $43 Million est. However, Greenback Commissioner Bob Franke wanted 20 pennies, which could finance $52 Million est. He spoke about adjusting the pennies amount down the day of the Commission vote. Why over estimate by $9 Million, Commissioner Franke and Budget Committee?

Commissioners Miller and Austin Shaver also shared concerns about pennies going to the Rural Fund Debt that may be "pilfered." Last year, the school board and commission had an opportunity to start the building program without a tax increase but instead the Rural Fund Debt pennies were used for school pay raises. Where were the big crowds who stayed home and looked the other way?   

This year's Budget Committee vote went something like this. Commissioner Bob Franke motioned to add 20 cents to the Rural Fund Debt, seconded by Budget Committee member Sharon Yarbrough. Voting Aye: Bob Franke, Sharon Yarbrough and Budget Chairman Mayor Estelle Herron. Voting No: Budget Committee members Austin Shaver and Don Miller.  Final vote 3 yes, 2 no.

What will 6 Pennies finance without a Tax Hike?

If Loudon County Commissioners decide to raise your property taxes, its not because it was an absolute must; other solutions have been offered for Commission's consideration.

According to Budget Committee discussions, Loudon County currently collects 14.21 pennies and each penny is worth $2 Million. Presently, 8 eight pennies go to pay off the County's debt, which includes $12.5 Million until 2025 (swap derivative) for school renovations, and some for the Highway 321 land deal.

That leaves 6 pennies "Credit" which may be used to finance $12 Million worth of new debt with NO tax increase, which Commission could vote to earmark for school renovations. 

So what could $12 Million finance? The school board could decide how to best spend the $12 Million on renovations and repairs. Or re-examine some of the recommendations made by the taxpayer funded $49,000 Public Building Authority (PBA) Study to see what the "Professionals" suggested to Commission and School Board. The PBA Study is several years old but this is what was suggested back in 2007:

 

LOUDON COUNTY SCHOOLS

PUBLIC BUILDING AUTHORITY STUDY

PBA Estimate Cost of Capital Improvements REMOVE  MODULAR UNITS

HUNTER "NO TAX HIKE" SOLUTION

Philadelphia School Add classrooms, renovations of cafeteria, and kitchen area, support area, and other repairs and upgrades. $3,272,000.00 1 $1,600,000.00         (NEW CAFETERIA ONLY latest est.)
Ft. Loudoun Middle School Add 10,000 sq. ft. includes classrooms and support area, renovations and repairs and upgrades, facelift, sprinklers, etc.  $3,268,000.00. 1 $3,268,000.00.
Loudon Elementary School Add 17,050 sq. ft.  and other repairs and upgrades. $4,125,000.00 5 $4,125,000.00
Greenback School New Greenback School  REVISIONS & NEW COST ESTIMATES PENDING.            Wait until economy improves to build new school and place on priority list. $460,000.00 * est.

Replace Roof at Greenback

 $460,000.00 *est.
TOTAL  

$11,125,000.00

7

$9,453,000.00

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PBA Loudon County School System - Suggested Capital Improvement Plan Details

Loudon County School System - Suggested Capital Improvement Plan             

NOTE: The PBA Study suggested only one new school to be constructed Greenback School for 800 students with suggested a Capital Improvement Plan of $27,450,000. But the new Greenback School was designed for an estimated 1,000 students. Greenback has 3 modular units. 

The PBA Study did not suggest building a new Ft. Loudoun Middle School but the school board voted to construct a new school. 

The school board voted to co- join the Loudon Elem School/Ft. Loudon Middle School and make it one school building. This project is currently on hold until a new Ft. Loudon Middle School is built; additional funds will still be needed and estimated to be between $5.4 M - $6 Million (new plan)not PBA Capital Improvement Plan suggestion. Currently, this project is NOT included in the Phase1 $43 Million Funding. There are 5 modular units at Loudon Elem. and 1 at Ft. Loudon Middle School. Philadelphia School has 1 modular unit, thus eliminating 7 modular units. 

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THE HUNTER REPORT - $49,000 PBA STUDY POWER -POINT & OTHER INFO

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06-30-2011