Although initiated with good intentions, Virginia’s “local composite index,” or LCI, that determines how much state revenue aid goes to the 134 school divisions around the commonwealth has become a political football, with influences in the state legislature skewing aid levels by leaving out local sources of income, such as hotel income in Virginia Beach, to gain unfair advantage. So said Hunter Kimble, the Falls Church Schools’ chief financial officer, and F.C.’s State Del. Marcus Simon at a forum held at the F.C. American Legion hall last week.
Proxies for wealth that determine how much each locality gets include the value of real estate, gross income and retail sales, and these criteria differ greatly around the state, they said. The City of Falls Church is one of nine jurisdictions that receives the lowest amount per capita from the state. Vice Mayor David Snyder chimed into the debate to note that if the City’s LCI number was the same as neighboring Fairfax County’s F.C.’s real estate tax rate would be six cents lower, and if it was the same as nearby Loudoun County it would be 12-13 cents less. He noted that for every dollar the City sends to Richmond, it gets only 21 cents back.
Simon noted that if the state paid to fund 100 percent of its “standards of quality” demands, the problem of disparities in the LCI would go away instantly.