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The Secession Movement in Loudoun County, Virginia

How it might affect us all.

by Michael H. Thomson
March 30, 2005

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The Secession Movement in Loudoun County, Virginia
When my wife and I moved to Loudoun County, Virginia and the little village of Paeonian Springs a few weeks ago, I had no idea the county was so divided. So the reader can connect themselves to Loudoun County here are a few factoids:

• Home of Dulles International Airport
• Headquarters of America Online
• Fastest growing county in the U.S.
• 25 miles from the nation’s capitol
• Across the mountain from the Shenandoah Valley

From Dulles International and east, the traveler encounters some of the densest urban sprawl in the country. To the west is beautiful untarnished landscape of Old Virginia complete with stone barns, hiking trails and rustic scenery.

The issue facing the residents of Loudoun County is the pace of growth. Some want unrestricted McDonalds, Wal-Mart’s, condominiums, and concrete. Most of this is taking place in the east of the county, while others in the west want slower growth – and preservation of the features that draw tourists to this pristine area of Virginia bordering West Virginia and Maryland.

Over the years, a balance existed and some zoning laws were passed that helped maintain that balance. Then suddenly a few weeks ago, something happened that blew the lid off everything. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled against the zoning laws declaring them unconstitutional.

Many landowners -due to the laws - had found themselves in a position of not being able to use, sell or even buy property as they wished. Joining major developers with a population at their back screaming for housing, both groups sought their day in court - and won.

Meanwhile the Loudoun Countians who enjoy the sound of birds’ twirping in the morning and the slight whiff of manure from a nearby farm were outraged! Action moved quickly. Committees were formed and an official ‘blood in the eye’ secession movement was launched and even a name for the proposed new county – Catocin – a name particular to the region. The secessionists hope the issue can be brought before the Virginia Legislature early in 2006.

A web search can bring you more detail than I can or am willing to provide in this column. Although I live here, my dog ain’t in this fight – yet… However, I do have some other thoughts on secession. They are gloomy, brooding, pessimistic thoughts - typical of Mike Thomson on a rainy day.

It is a rainy day and these thoughts haven’t come about just because of the local secessionist movement which somewhere months ahead will probably generate national headlines if for no other reason than the issue’s proximity to the national media – some of whom live here.

For several years, I have been observing the divide that is taking place in this country. A divide between right and left, Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and those not so inclined, pro-life versus pro-choice, and now the labeling of a place one lives as a red or blue state. My bones with their Irish genetic pattern are telling me this is leading up to something. Something that could be unpleasant and long lasting – Revolution.

I’ve quit wondering if it will happen, but when it will happen and what will be the spark that lights the powder. Of course, these are my personal thoughts and it is not my intention to persuade anyone reading this column to adopt or share them. God forbid it ever happens.

So how does the secessionist movement in the fastest growing county in the United States mean anything to anyone anywhere else?

It means something only if it succeeds. National news highlights it. Prominent figures become involved – trust me, Loudoun County is full of nationally prominent figures, I met one at church two Sundays ago – shocked me to my toes. Finally, the copycat effect goes into gear. If it succeeds, the example is set that it is possible and others gain hope it can be done in their county and maybe even, state. Further division, further chaos then someone from a red or blue state gets the idea that it can be done within the country.

Maybe the sun will shine tomorrow…

Comments (19)

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Dean Settle from Lovettsville writes:
April 12, 2005
Howdy neighbor.

If you knew the pain of only recieving .30 cents in county services back from every dollar you paid in taxes, all the while watching the other .70 support the massive infrastructure costs that east Loudoun's unmanaged growth has built, you'd have a dog in the fight. Living in Paeonian Springs, and I assume paying property taxes, it will matter to you, soon enough.

Once the west is fully developed, and the entire infrastructure has no other part of the county to borrow from, I wonder where the Board of Supervisors will get their buffer money?

They're robbing peter to pay paul, and one day soon, both will be broke. The taxpayer will feel the load when that day comes.

Mike Thomson from Paeonian Springs, VA writes:
April 12, 2005
Howdy back to you, neighbor!

Just some newcomer's questions if you please - was my description of this being a blood in the eye secession movement accurate? What kind of opposition will it get in the Virginia Legislature? And finally, if a new county of Catocin emerges what will generate the revenue to get back the services we are not getting now? Oops! I forgot one, will the same crowd who are fighting slow growth initiatives try to do it again in the new county.

PO is a national publication and I'm sure that many of our readers - in their own locales are going to be watching this fight. Some of my friends from Brevard County, Florida are especially interested in this issue.

Your comments are starting to worry me. I'm thinking about going to that animal shelter on State 9 and getting me a dog! Do you recommend the basic Rotweiler or a snarly Pit Bull?

Thank you for your comments!

Dean Settle from Lovettsville writes:
June 20, 2005
June 20, 2005

Sorry I hadn't gotten back sooner... Should've e-mailed me for a faster retort.

Was my description of this being a blood in the eye secession movement accurate? Define blood in the eye. I'm not too familiar with that metaphor.

What kind of opposition will it get in the Virginia Legislature?

We stand to pick up votes where it is seen that growth (and the capital that it requires) will slow down upon the creation of the county. Bean counters in the Assembly will be impressed.... There is also some talk of sympathy votes of those who are familiar with our plight in their portion of Virginia. It will surely meet the opposition of all who think that there are enough counties in Virginia, and most definitely meet opposition from Dick Black and company.

And finally, if a new county of Catocin emerges what will generate the revenue to get back the services we are not getting now?

There is plenty of money to provide services. East Loudoun would be the portion of the current county that would suffer.

I'll try to find the exact figure that was collected last year in west Loudoun. X billion dollars... Now, what really breaks us apart from the East... We have no infrastructure to speak of. The majority of homes have well water, septic fields and pay for their own trash removal. 25 acres of land with one family on it doesn't even warm up to 25 acres with 100 families on it, in regard to school needs... that's 2.2 kids compared to 202 kids. Incidentally education/school construction accounts for 75% of the previously mentioned infrastructure costs....



Oops! I forgot one, will the same crowd who are fighting slow growth initiatives try to do it again in the new county.

There are some who are ultra no-growth. It's not realistic to imagine that there will be no growth. Slow, controlled growth is where the majority is. If the new county is formed, there would be a new group of supervisors who the majority voted into office. As it stands currently, we are allowed only 1 representativ from our respective districts. Population/per capita volume accounted for that. In a new county, all the supervisors would be from Catoctin, and thereby have an equal interest in what was west Loudoun, instead of supervisors who sit in the east of the county and decide our fate from there.

Note of interest: In a late development, the Burton/Clem proposal for zoning appears to be more popular than the Tullock/Staton plan. This may turn the heat down on the Catoctin County move. It addresses the very fuel that feeds the movement. We shall see. I'm off to speak at the hearing in the AM.

Barbara Munsey from Eastern Loudoun writes:
August 4, 2005
I would suggest your group research the issue independently, and not rely exclusively on information from the secession group.

The eastern district in which I live, which possesses most of the unbuilt land currently zoned for development, and has a huge service deficit because of the no-growth opposition over the years to any services that would acknowledge growth has actually occurred (and will contiune to occur) here.

Add to that the fact that Virginia is a by-right state (in that land may be used as it is zoned without further public approval), and the continued opposition by the no-growth set to any planning of growth in the suburban areas has created a hodgepodge of by-right development which adds impact to all the overstrained services, while offering no negotiated mitigation whatsoever in terms of road improvements, park sites, school sites, library contributions, you name it.

The tax issue is going to be truly interesting: already the contribution by the differing areas is masked by relentless quoting of average cost, the most egregious of which is the cost of a school seat. Last year's figures showed that the cheapest cost was ~$4K, in a large eastern suburban school, and the highest was ~$16K, in a small school in the capital of the hunt district. The small school adjoing the buffer area came in second at ~$12K. Even factoring in debt service on the newer suburban schools left the cost differential at over $10K, which interestingly enough is still less than the average cost of $11K often quoted by the various no-growth groups. The majority of the schools in the densely populated suburban areas come in at $6K per seat or less.

This can't help but affect the possible tax rate in the proposed county, particularly when it is considered that the Catoctin website addresses the issue of service cost by relating the secession to a divorce, with an equitable distribution of assets. In other words, implying that any schools (or other public services) located within the proposed boundaries of the new county will simply be deeded over to Catoctin.

However, the schools and the tracts of land on which they sit are the property of the Loudoun County Public School system, and I have seen and heard no addressal of how the land and facilities might be purchased from that body, and only minimal attention to the possibility of contracting services from LCPS after any creation of the new entity. The Loudoun County government doesn't even get decommissioned schools or facilities back from the deed holder LCPS until (if and when) LCPS formally declares them surplus. The price of land here makes purchase of these facitlities a significant consideration in any financial feasibility study on secession.

I feel it would do a great disservice to those citizens interested in exploring Catoctin if the cost of purchasing the schools is not factored in, or the cost of providing parity of service in much smaller schools is not addressed. Not to mention the fact that many of the small rural schools are the oldest in the county (one, the $16K per seat, is legitimately historic, dating from the second decade of the last century) and although they may not have debt service, they can't help but see significant maintenance issues as they continue to age. (Including utilities and even asbestos, in some, if any major renovations or expansions prove necessary.)

This is why I feel it is wishful thinking to believe, as some Catoctin proponents seem to do, that their taxes are providing eastern services. I can pretty much guarantee that with that cost differential per seat, a good deal of the school money is running the other way.

Add in that many of the rural businesses touted are actually tax shelters for hobbies by those who are already lucky and successful enough to have had a first career that allows them to declare themselves a farmer, and the true tax picture looks very bleak.

I firmly believe that, as a close-in county to Washington DC, we will continue to see rapid growth, and MUST plan it WITH negotiated improvements. The no-growth wishful thinking that the days when one could live on a farm with horses while painlessly commuting to DC and beyond, with a .6 or .8% tax rate that will never change, is a desperate fantasy. Because of the exclusionary and restrictive zoning forced through by the last Board, growth has already leapfrogged Loudoun by those seeking affordability or the same rural emptiness required by individuals who want everyone ELSE to live within walking distance of their jobs. That traffic will be with us forever, yet roads are still demonized as causing growth. Loudoun has the most miles of unpaved roads in the state, and under the last board created a historic roadway district which will insure that many remain that way. This is fine for bridle paths, but doesn't do much for public safety access or safety in general.

By all means, let those citizens in the western portion of Loudoun research all the options available. But the entity doing the exploring should do their neighbors the courtesy of telling them the truth while they're at it.

I just returned from an annual visit to Cape Cod, and learned by reading Chamber of Commerce reports on the townships of the Cape that Truro, with 67% of its land mass in conservation, and the undeveloped home of many renowned artists and writers (much like portions of western Loudoun), nevertheless has a tax rate many multiples of ours, which has been steady for nearly 10 years at an average of 1%. The tax rates on the Cape range from 7% to as high as 13%, even with the huge amounts of land in wildlife management and national seashore. This would seem to disprove the idea that conserved land in a developed area leads to a very low tax rate, but I'm certainly no expert.

Be prepared for flames regarding my submission: as a member of the local Republican committee who owns a quarter acre suburban home on a transcontinental truck route that can NEVER be improved--in fact, just received $8M in federal pork to CALM (gridlock) it--because it is the driveway to hunt country, expect to hear in detail that I am a paid developer speculator who hates the environment and everything else, as the land-raping Nazi Fascist that I am. The most extreme of the no-growth proponents often use heated Nazi imagery in attacking anyone who disagrees with them. Sorry, I'm just a suburban mom who follows the issues, and is tired of hearing people tell only those portions of the truth that place them as abused victim.

Dean Settle from Lovettsville writes:
August 24, 2005
Barbara... You don't follow closely enough, dear.

Al Van Huyck (fron the Planning Commission) has offered the figures as long ago as 1999. Western Loudoun has definitely been propping up the east's infrastructure for at least that long. What we used to get for that money was an informal agreement that we'd never have to worry about developers.

You also mistakenly have assumed (we all know what the word really means) that I am a greenie- tree hugger, when in fact I am a super conservative Republican who is holding his representatives to a financially conservative plank in the GOP platform. You can't cut taxes if you're constantly adding reasons (and homes) to support out here. I recently stopped attending my Loudoun County Republican meetings because I was lambasted for actually disagreeing with them on development. I haven't missed the ol' kool-aid party yet.

Food for thought...... Each new home in the adds $1.75 to the County's infrastructure cost of services for every $1.00 it contributes to the tax base. You going to the same math class Mick Staton attended?

My family has been at the root of Virginia politics and farming since 1641. My wife and I currently own 25 acres in Lovettsville, and are considering 55 acres more outside of Purcellville. We are registered Welsh and Cobb Breeders. I retired about 3 years ago from the Information Technology field, and almost immediately went to work for myself.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
August 31, 2005
Dear Dean--I assume (and we all know what that means) that I can also call you that?--great dodge of a reply, and nicely patronizing in tone.

First, are you referring to Mr. Van Huyck's white paper published one month before the 1999 election, which was re-released by the Piedmont Environmental Council a week after that election under a slightly different title, which was re-rereleased and entered into record at the first meeting of the board elected in 1999 as the report of the Transition Team, which later appeared almost verbatim in sections of the Comprehensive Plan thrown out by the Supreme Court, supposedly developed with extensive citizen input? I've read all four. Have you also read the economic report commissioned by the 1999 board which disagreed with those theories and projections, and was subsequently disavowed by that board after we paid our tax dollars for it?

You assume I assume you are a greenie weenie tree-hugger--if it makes you feel better, fine. I am glad that you are one of the individuals lucky enough to have had a successful first career that allows you to now be a farmer/breeder. Are you in Land Use? What percentage of your total income is produced by your Welsh and Cobbs?

You fail to address the main point of my letter, which is the FACT that Loudoun County schools and the land they occupy belongs to LCPS, and would entail a significant cost to purchase and operate, especially with the vastly higher cost per seat in the smaller western schools, which you also chose to ignore. An $11K difference in cost per seat does not support your argument that the west carries the east. Your taxes have certainly risen--you are not alone, no matter how much you may wish you were--but from .7 to 1.04 for everyone is hardly you carrying the county. Are we one county when it suits some, and not when it doesn't?

I am happy that you are wealthy enough to afford to more than double your acreage. I am also happy that you are a resident since 1641. I will ask my husband what generation the children are, as they have four Mayflower ancestors, including the only signer of the Mayflower Compact to have previously resided in the Jamestown Colony, making them eligible for a wide variety of groups to which you too may belong for all I know. Perhaps we are kin.

What does that have to do with economic vaibility and tax rate in the fictional Catoctin County?

Dean Settle from Loudoun writes:
January 14, 2006
Twist it with figures (figures lie and liar's figure...hey, it's not mine).

I didn't dodge your questions. I'm just not in for hours of typing the response.

The economic study that has come from Catoctin County's research uses county figures, and a host of other information. Their desire in that study was that it be accepted as viable, because the numbers and information were from Loudoun County current data.

The results of that study should be out by now, and I'll have to search out to see if they are. Those are the official results of the county's fiscal stand-alone capability, outweighing anything you or I could offer because the professionals involved researched a better number of criteria in depth than either you or myself.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
January 24, 2006
It is my understanding that the study was complete several months ago. The ongoing fiction has been for several months now that it isbeing vetted.

A friend in Purcellville prefers tweaked.

Read last week's Fauquier Times-Democrat for a remarkably sad article on the fact that the study may be released to Fauquier this month (if it is done being vetted--!), in a meeting designed to explore possible annexation with Fauquier, or the rightness of northern Fauquier and western Loudoun forming a new entity because of their soulmate status.

Now I'm sorry, but that is just pitiful. If the study showed a good position, it would have been all over the press last year. For several months now, it has been reimaged as preliminary and needing further vetting. And IF they release it, it won't even be in Loudoun?

Come on folks. Publish the study and prove your point.

Dean Settle from Lovettsville, Purcellville writes:
February 28, 2006
these protesters are showing their stuff at the polls. In November, parts of Loudoun considered solidly Republican voted for Democrat Tim Kaine for governor. Why? Analysts say it was because of his transportation ideas--and frustration with the Republicans in power.

Last week, a special election occurred to fill the Virginia Senate seat formerly held by Republican Bill Mims, who left it to become chief deputy to State Attorney General Bob McDonnell. After a whirlwind campaign that pitted a social conservative, Republican David Staton, against Democrat Mark Herring, a vocal supporter of Gov. Kaine's transportation plans, Mr. Herring cleaned up on the Republican.


Republicans as high as Richmond are inquiring why Loudoun is electing Democrats. It is beginning to dawn on them that it is the outright sale of this bastion of Republicans to the no developer left behind ideology. They now realize that they reign in those responsible, or face continuing loss to voters who've had it with the Republicans siding with get rich quick schemes and forgetting who put them in office.

Brace yourselves, because as sure as the next election will occur, three Supervisors will not be making the trip back to office. Mr. Tullock, on the other hand, is hard to read. Recently siding with the majority of the Board in furthering the low density plan, it is hard to tell if he's seen the light, or if he just doesn't want to be outside that door during deliberations on implementing the new zoning.

I've appealed to him numerous times not to raise the taxes on county property owners by selling out to developers who don't now, nor ever paid for the damage that they leave for all of the citizenry. Every new house puts us deeper and deeper in debt.

I'm not about the environment, I'm about people who were selected to lead Loudoun to greatewr things, not lead us into higher taxes as an infrastructure grows out of control with each new house, while those who pushed it down our throats feel like it's a god-given entitlement for us to pick up their slack after they get their money and depart.

There are no guarantees in life, and if someone gambles in real estate while turning a blind eye to the direction that the population is pushing for, and letting greed cloud their judgement on what the ultimate result of that push will be, then they deserve to lose every dime.

If this were the stock market (which most of the invested money in Loudoun County was invested here instead of the stock market) and a particular stock had the warning signs on slowing down that the voters have shown and expressed, and if these people who want their three acres to push thru represent the slackers....trying too little, too late... to cry and whine as the price plummets, but never ready to sell and cut their losses until it goes all the way to the bottom...because deep down, they believe that if they kick their feet, and rub their eyes, and act like the spoiled children that never grew up....that the decision will reverse and they still hold out a chance of getting what they are ENTITLED to.

We are the voters. We have spoken. They are not ENTITLED to a damned thing.

Anybody notice that the housing market slowed down considerably over the last month?

Housing starts in January were up by 14%, mostly due to warm weather, while houses actually moving to sale dropped significantly.

Interestingly, we have had one million and a half dollar house fire, and quite frankly, I'd be investigating to find out if financing was in the form of an interest only loan.

But that's just me.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
March 1, 2006
Dean--the study still has not been released. It won't be released during budget discussion either, will it?

A vocal no-growth activist is already appearing in blogs saying that the tax picture for Catoctin will gradually improve sometime in the future--meaning it is bleak now, isn't it?

The fact is, and remains, that your stock market imagery (often misused in the debate) is sheer projection of greed onto the opposition. There was no guarantee in life that Loudoun would remain empty, providing a rural lifestyle on the cheap--with an easy and empty commute--to people with urban jobs who don't want to be near other people.

As far as whining, many on the other side of the fence seem to want the value of their assets without paying for them. And given the fact that the bulk of tax revenue comes from the suburbs, while feeding the higher cost of services west of 15, we can rest assured that the study will not be seen anywhere near a discussion of what taxes we shall all be paying this year.

As I said: release the study. Prove the point.

Or hush with the ad hominem bluster.

Dean Settle from Lovettsville writes:
March 1, 2006

I cannot release the study, because I am in no way representative of that group, although I surely understand where they come from.

Furthermore, you need to prove your rather funny diatribe about the east supporting the west. That, dear...IS hilarious. 70% of the infrastructure resides in the east.

While we in the west do not have community water or septic that the county is responsible for, nor do we require trash pickup, nor do we tax the fire and sheriff department with sheer volume of residents. We do not send masses of children to schools that rivals the number sent there by the east....

And all the while, we pay the same taxes and do not ask for, nor do we recieve any more in services, yet the county ask more every year due to the cost of the huge infrastructure in your hood.

Mathmatics lesson #2....

Collecting only $1.00 of tax base, and immediately turning around and spending $1.75 on infrastructure for new homes and traffic, and a whole laundry list that comes with new homes does not actually enrich the tax base or the citizens. It strips them of more money.

I believe it is YOU that is spreading incorrect information, but from every board I've read on the internet when I searched for your interaction to see what kind of dog you had in this fight .... as well as people I meet all over Loudoun everyday, the majority of people in this county have your number without anymore explanation needed.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
March 2, 2006
Dean: How does another ad hominem attack address the issue?

You raised the point of the financial study that would prove all that you say, now you backpedal on it while attacking with insinuation about me. I firmly believe that if the study were positive, we'd have heard about it ad nauseam long before now. It cannot be released during budget deliberations, because it would certainly take the wind out of a lot of folks showing up to say my taxes are too high because of you suburbanites if the report showed a 300% (or more) increase in tax burden for you to be independent of the suburban tax base.

I think county residents deserve to see the study before a budget is voted on, especially if the county stage is still going to be monopolized ad infinitum by a small group of rural groupies who want their cake as well as everyone else's, and for free.

Of course 70% of the infrastructure is in the east: so is 70% of the population (on 30% of the land), and almost all of the actual business. And as I have said many times, if it costs $4K a pop to school in my neighborhood, and $16K a pop in the lowest density special zone, at three quarters of every tax dollar spent (of the lower total percentage collected in the rural districts), the rural districts are not paying for us. Your taxes have risen from an artificial low to more adequately reflect the value of what you want to continue to have as close to free as possible.

Many of those who moved west in the last 10 years (while being PART OF the growth they complain about) do not pay ENOUGH taxes for their large lots, viewshed, solitude and much longer commute.

As for the fire that you seemed certain is about loan default, I ask two things: What about the new residential construction at Janelia (the pristine estate that will pay no taxes as Hughes headquarters, yet was heralded as a business by the old BoS)? If it was arson, I wonder if we have ecoterrorists here again? Especially since the bomb threat to the county building the other day--was it a disgruntled taxpayer, or an edge-variety no-growther? I ask because of the second thing: do you recall all of the arsons in the first six months of the smart growth BoS' reign? More than 20 on new homes under construction. Of course, it was very interesting when the Sheriff gave the material to the FBI, and all of a sudden, the BoS and the Commonwealth's Attorney started screaming that we needed a police department under the direct control of the Board of Supervisors. I think not.

So, you and everybody in the county have my number? Maybe you are projecting again.

Publish truth about me that proves I am a speculator or developer.

Publish the study that proves your financial rants.

Address the issue with documented fact, because the insinuation and ranting does nothing for your credibility.

Maybe it is time for Catoctin County now. Demand, as an interested party for secession, that the study be released. Do not those who have supported the effort deserve an honest and transparent return for their faith? Or only mean-spirited soundbytes without substance?

Dean Settle from Lovettsville writes:
March 3, 2006

I'll explain it slower, cause evidently you didn't grasp the idea, or you deliberately overlooked it...

I am not representative of the CCC. I attended some meetings, and then fell off in my interest as the county adopted the zoning that I wanted in a 5-4 majority.

I am a conservative and am one of many in the wings who is eager to reclaim the Republican Party in Loudoun from an extreme wing who hijacked it sometime prior to the last election.

The heat is being turned up by the Republican Party in Richmond and they also are becoming more eager to rid the party of the hijackers, because it just cost them two elections.

The market for the homes is cooling, and interest rates are beginning to cool the market as well.

The stars are aligning for a greater good in the county, and will continue with the next elections if all these movements follow their current alignments.

All will be well, as more active residents step to the plate, and demand more and more accountability of their representatives.

In case you missed it, I'll say it again... I am not a part of, nor do I represent the CCC, and I distanced myself from the group after Karl Phillips made remarks regarding Bush and the war on his webpage. It is sad that he does not realize that those comments would actually alienate some of the citizens who were doing the most for him.

Dean Settle from Lovettsville, Va writes:
March 7, 2006
Barbara, if you can comfort yourself with labeling my lack of typing out several paragraphs of information and explanation which you will immediately dismiss anyway as dodging, then comfort yourself.

Here is the result of all the new homes and the children they bring.

All I/we (as the majority of citizens has shown that they are ready for low density...first by ousting Black and then by electing Herring) want is to slow down, not stop development.

Get the roads in place, get the dollars needed for schools and highways first.

I'm not against proffers imposed on developers figured by home numbers, and laying out a bill to the developer worth, starting at, say.....$17,500 per residence. Pay it or move along. They won't move far, because Virginia is surrounded by IMPACT FEES that they cannot wiggle out from under at all borders, which is why we're having this problem in the first place.

Right now, Republican Board members who were supposed to champion lowered taxes are actually sitting atop an infrastructure that they bought upon themselves in not realizing a simple fact. For every dollar that a new home pays in taxes, the taxpayers must chip in $1.75 cents to provide that home with schools and services.

We are poised right now to lose our Bond ratings that Tullock and company went to NY to negotiate. Go figure.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
March 8, 2006
Peace, Dean. I'll let it go that you have yet to answer the difference in cost per school seat, which makes up 75-80% of every tax dollar spent in Loudoun.

Also that the bulk of revenue is collected in the suburban districts.

Also that multiple tax write offs do not an economy make.

Also that your end of the county can't even vote for Black or Herring, yet did most of the campaigning. It was hilarious to me that Leesburg Today quoted the county registrar on the day of the special election saying that because of the VERY low turnout for the 33rd, their biggest problem was the brand new residents showing up at their western precincts simply outraged that the precincts were not open, because they were there to vote! Wish I could have seen the faces when they were told You don't live in the 33rd district. You can't vote in an election there. Seems to be indicative of some of the mentality out there--but we SHOULD be able to vote on it, whether we live there or not!

I don't go to Lovettsville and campaign against Sally Kurtz.

As for not feeling up to the effort it would take to educate a cretin like me, you need to do a little education on yourself, unless your $17, 500 figure is meant to be assessed IN ADDITION to the current CFC per residence of nearly $40K. Which is passed on to the customer. Along with the increased cost in land because of the limiting of supply. And don't forget to weep a little over affordable housing! (which is NOT $500K+ condos in towers in Ashburn)

For every dollar an eastern resident pays (the county picks up $9K of the average cost of each school seat--which means it pays for 2.25 elementary seats in South Riding for every .75 of an elementary seat it pays for in Aldie. My husband has a 12-minute commute. Can the no-growthers of the transition zone say the same?) that a rural resident is being let off on for having multiple tax write-offs in the form of hobbies and large pets (and I don't mean the few legitimate farmers who actually produce bulk agricultural products--you know, the viewshed that really belongs to the neighbors instead of the OWNERS?), the argument gets weaker on your side.

This thread is about the possibility of a viable Catoctin County. If you have no facts, or wish to claim it is useless to share them because of my incapacity to recieve them, then it is pointless to argue.

Only one of us is debating.

And it ain't you.

Dean Settle writes:
March 8, 2006
I call BS, until you prove that they actually showed up at our voting stations. I suspect you're making it up as you go along, now.

Western voters are all much more involved in the process, however, they are smart enough to research and know what district they live in.

We hardly needed to come over and attempt anything. Eastern voters did it for us, because truth be told, they are as tired of taxing for an infrastructure as we are in the west.

I have never said that we pay more in the west. What I have pointed out in several instances is that the east pays 70% of the infrastructure, but needs and utilizes 30% of our 30% in addition for needed infrastructure payment.

Yet, we have difficulty getting anything from the County for the portion we pay in.

The most recent assessments are actually artificially high, in order to be able to pull the percent of assessment down by actually ramping the values.

This is the deciding nail in the coffin of the four supervisors who ran on a low taxes promise, and then keep adding houses to the mix at seventy-five cents per dollar cost to the taxpayer.

Only houses who pay tax on one million dollars of assessed value can send one child to school without cost to the infrastructure.

First off, how many properties appraise at $1 mil...?

And secondly, you do realize that by the second child entering school from that house, they're in the hole again?

Secondly, I've heard your demeaning diatribe against rural businesses not being able to compare with large business in the east.

Inform yourself that in 2004, there were $80 million in horses sold in Loudoun County.

Loudoun County came in a solid 3rd in total hay sales in all of the counties in Va.

I suppose I should end discussions with you on this note.

It's a country thing, and you'll never understand it.

I feel like trying to communicate facts and processes to you is like swinging a hammer all day and not seeing a dent. I'm tired and I will not waste the time. I will, however, continue to push the social conservatives in the county to the side and support any and all efforts to remove developers from the levels of government where they have no place. It is the people's government, the people's taxes that are expected to pay off developer greed, and the people's place to remove those who place their own greed above the people's fiscal conservatism.

Side bet: Lori Waters and Jim Clem return in 2008 unscathed.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
March 8, 2006
Dean: go to the January 31st aricle on the Leesburg Today website headline about Low morning turnout...


and see the article for yourself. No hon, I'm not making it up.

Western Loudoun used to be in the 33rd BEFORE the decennial redistricting based on census--this is 2006. There was an election (or two) in the new district since it no longer included the west. Ergo, new residents. The easiest to fool for PEC.

You have said a great many things, some in conflict with one another, and some apparently gone AND forgotten.

I'm sure lots of horses were bought and sold--but they aren't taxed. So, what benefit did the $80M give our tax structure? Zip.

The last board even tried to GIVE PEOPLE AN AGRICULTURAL TAX BREAK for simply OWNING horses--because it is such a land-instensive pastime, it keeps land open. USDA didn't let them get away with it, because having a large stock animal for a pet is NOT PRODUCING AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT.

But it sure explains what really drives the bus in parts of the west. Open space actually belongs to someone, Dean, who pays taxes on it.

It isn't just a vacuum.

I'm sure it does feel like you're swinging a hammer--it reads like it too.

Prove one of your points without ranting and attacking, stick to and finish one of the scattered subjects you raise.

I won't hold my breath.

p.s.--I see you've posted on the Leesburg Today site that you will run against Mayor Walker of Lovettsville if you have to. Apparently because she is responding to constituent concern and hosting a forum on possibly locationg the next western high school in Lovettsville. Do you honestly feel called upon to save Lovettsville from a mayor who responds to the concerns of residents besides yourself? Good Lord, grow up.

Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
April 6, 2006
Dean et al interested: I saw that there was the first meeting of the secession group in some time last week at Philomont, and a sneak preview of the feasibility study was advertised.

I did not attend the meeting, and have not yet talked to anyone who did, but I did hear from a Lincoln resident at Tuesday's Board meeting that the Piedmont Environmental Council had undertaken a new feasibility study, and that the preliminary results were very positive.

This begs some questions for me:

What happened to the first INDEPENDENT commissioned feasibility study, and why has it not yet been released?

Why is the PEC starting over with it, if that's what they're doing, and who will independently confirm their results?

Why have we now gone all the way through the budget process without seeing either one?


Barbara Munsey from eastern Loudoun writes:
April 12, 2006
Well, the study is posted on the CCC website, and it is interesting.

It claims that both counties will be net positives after the split.

It notes a 3% startup increase in taxes for one time expenses, but it makes some pretty amazing assumptions, has some remarkable inclusions, and leaves some real gaping holes.

First, it does in fact operate on the assumption (there's that word) that all public facilities will be simply divided based on location. It seems to include employees based on that too.

It seems to expect a multimillion dollar equity credit from the remaining portion of Loudoun for our facilities, which is pretty interesting in light of no mention of payment for LCPS facilities (that will simply be Catoctin facilities now).

It does mention that almost all business revenue is in the east.

It does mention that almost all land in the west is taxed at a much lower rate.

It makes no mention of the looming $100M western HS, which will be even more drasticially needed given the theoretical boundaries: a significant portion of the land chosen for secession (which does not include Leesburg) is actually served by schools in Leesburg (outside the proposed boundaries).

A long introduction may be the PEC contribution, given the amount of the content that provides PR for PEC groups.

The main reason for secession discussed at length is the fact that the west doesn't get enough political representation, which is somehow not buttressed once one gets into the study and sees that the proposed secession area contains only 16% of the population.

We have nine supervisory seats, two in western districts. Not counting Mr. York (and we might as well, since he lost in all the eastern districts in '03), that still provides 22% of the voting body. Add in Mr. York, and it jumps to 33%. Are we to understand that voting in the new county will be done by the acre instead of by population, in order to fulfill some new idea of fairness? Yipes.

The footnotes are very interesting, as many are purely inferential.

The best (and saddest) of them all is at the end, when the statistics for the study are discussed. They were chosen and prepared by a member of the group who has his own statistical analysis firm. The data chosen is based on assumptions (including that LCPS is just going to be giving up its property), some of which differ from the assessor's office (!), and a different set of assumptions would yield a different result.

Oh boy.

So, it shall be released at lunchtime in Purcellville tomorrow, in the doldrums of spring break, on a religious holiday.

And by the time everybody gets back, the story will be what has been made of it by the various press doctors, and not any rational facts.

Laugh? Cry?


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