February 23, 2012
Loudoun County Government Center
President & CEO
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
Good evening members of the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission. My name is Tony Howard and I am the President of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.
On behalf of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, I thank you for this opportunity to offer the Chamber’s perspective on the ways that Loudoun County can achieve greater efficiencies and performance by reforming its policies and operational strategies.
I have provided, for the record, copies of the Chamber’s Public Policy Positions, where our agenda addresses these issues in greater depth than I can tonight. For the Commission’s consideration, these areas include:Economic Development
Our Board of Directors believes Loudoun County would be well served by undertaking a thoughtful and thorough evaluation of the potential benefits associated with an Economic Development Authority. This is not an endorsement of an Authority over a Department, just a strong recommendation that the Board of Supervisors consider an alternative approach to economic development could reap greater gains for the investment of taxpayers’ dollars.
The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce believes that, in order to effectively meet the needs of Loudoun’s businesses and residents, County government must operate with a business-minded focus on efficiency, responsiveness and strategic vision.
For these reasons, the Chamber supports these governance reforms that will support a more stable, consistent business-friendly environment.
Staggered Terms: Dramatic changes every four years on the Board of Supervisors - and to the commissions with Board-appointed members - have hurt the county’s economic development policies and created uncertainty for businesses and investors.
Staggered terms for the Board of Supervisors, which exist in a majority of Virginia’s counties, would provide more continuity and predictability, and help reduce wholesale shifts in policies covering land use, transportation and taxation.
For similar reasons, the Chamber supports staggered terms for School Board members.
At-Large Magisterial Districts: The Chamber supports adding additional at-large seats on the Board of Supervisors, to provide more countywide perspective on the Board. The imbalance towards magisterial districts has fostered a parochial perspective on the Board that does sufficiently consider the greater good of the entire County.
Form of Government: Loudoun County is a rapidly growing and evolving community. There are serious questions regarding whether the current form of government is adequate to meet the County’s greatest challenges. For these reasons, the Chamber recommends the Board of Supervisors commission an effort to research and analyze alternative forms of government.
The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce supports a regulatory regime that enables strong economic growth while providing safeguards that are necessary to protect the interests of consumers, taxpayers and other citizens. The Chamber supports reliable cost-benefit analisys of all proposed regulations and the detailed annual accounting of the costs and benefits of those regulations.
Stakeholder Review - In addition, the Chamber strongly believes the business community having a central role in the development of any proposed or amended law, policy or regulation that would impact the cost, operations or growth of business in Loudoun.
Privatization- The Chamber also supports a thorough examination of the County government’s operations to determine whether any of these might be provided more efficiently, effectively, and economically by the private sector and non-profit organizations.
County and Schools operations
The Chamber believes Loudoun County Public Schools and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors should work collaboratively to review local education spending to identify areas where efficiencies can be found.
The Chamber also calls on both the county and school boards to increase their efforts to identify improvements to the school site selection and land use permitting to streamline the process and save money
We also support creative approaches to supplement education funding, such as:
- Expanded use of school-business partnerships to provide valuable resources of time, energy and funding to support the schools;
- In-system attendance alternatives, such as open enrollment to balance population among schools; Public charter schools and magnet schools; and Distance-learning for in-school and home-schooled students.
The Chamber supports giving parents a choice between traditional schools and other learning alternatives, and providing opportunities and incentives for the schools to innovate.
The Loudoun Chamber supports initiatives to increase the availability of a wide range of housing options to meet the needs of Loudoun’s growing population and workforce. These include:
- Creating a single local housing trust fund and leveraging this fund to provide the highest possible impact;
- Improvements to the County Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance that would provide a higher number of overall units available for sale or rental;
- Use of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to investigate alternative project solutions, attract nonprofit developers, provide financing alternatives for potential projects, and potentially act as a housing authority;
- Encouragement of major employers to adopt housing assistance programs; and
I would like to take this opportunity to again thank you for the opportunity to share the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s perspective on the Commission’s work and to pledge our commitment to be your partner in this important work.