Friday, February 10, 2012

Loudoun Budget Report: Schools To Be Cancelled?

If You Want This...
Expect this...

Bringing Metro into Loudoun County sounds good but do not overlook that you absolutely will give up plenty to pay for it. It is not free, in fact the payments will be huge, and they will never stop, NEVER.

If Loudoun opts in to Rail to Loudoun, each and every year after it is completed, Loudoun County will get a bill from Metro for $100 million or more. Loudoun will also write a $25 million check every year for about 30 years to pay the mortgage on the construction costs for Rail to Loudoun. That is roughly equal to the cost of 4 new schools every year. It is time to do a reality check on this spending because our accounts are already overdrawn.

$175 Million - is the cost per year to service Loudoun's current debt.

$1.4 billion - Loudoun’s current debt plus approved bond issues.

Tim Hemstreet just proposed a $1.27 FY13 Tax Rate. That sounds good. But what happens when the big rail bills start coming in? It’s pretty clear from our supervisors’ recent campaigns that raising taxes is off the table.

$120 million – of borrowed money is already set aside for rail in Loudoun’s budget. Opting out means saving this money which could become a $.15 reduction on our tax rate for this year... or $.05 a year for the next 3-4 years...

“I will fight to prevent increases in your property taxes”
Supervisor Janet Clarke

“I am committed to reining in the growth in taxes...”
Supervisor Geary Higgins

“As your Supervisor, I will shift the tax burden off just the homeowners…“
Supervisor Shawn Williams
“I am a true fiscal conservative. As a Supervisor, I will fight to keep property taxes as low as possible." Supervisor Matt Letourneau 

"Schools, transportation and fiscal responsibility... that's what it comes down to...the budget process would to have to be viewed carefully, as the Board works to drill down to core services and working to trim programs the government should not be responsible for.”   Supervisor Ralph Bouna

Supervisor Bouna's words are right on the mark unless he feels development speculation is a core government responsibility. It’s clear from the supervisors statements that holding the line on taxes means some spending will just have to be eliminated, not put on hold, but sacrificed forever. Just like the US government is learning, so Loudoun must realize we can't have it all. Choosing to put our money into this high risk project called Rail to Loudoun requires us to make some sacrifices. 

$100 million is the yearly Loudoun membership fee, payable to Metro for operation, overhead, and accumulated cost of deferred maintenance that amount is roughly equal to 200 new ball fields.
Some businessmen in the community say the idea of spending big to make developers richer even without ever having performed a feasibility study, and they’re the experts, right? Wrong. They are as anxious as the developers to see Loudoun go further into debt because it's not their money, it's ours. If they are so excited about Rail they ought to pay for it. 
Purchasing some of the items listed below could make everyday life a lot better for all of us, things like an overpass for Sycoln Road at Rt. 7. Others are a complete waste of Loudoun taxpayer’s money. Just remember wealthy Loudoun residents, you can’t spend it twice. If you want your money to be spent wisely, speak up and let your Supervisors know.

Go to the "Supervisors Contact Information" tab at the top and take moment to send them an email or give them a call. That's all it will take. Remember, if Loudoun opts out before 90 days we pay NADA, NOTHING, ZILCH, ZERO. Once we jump it is all over until we hit bottom. You could ask the Supervisors to do exactly as Mr. Bouna says, 
"...drill down to core services and work to trim programs the government should not be responsible for...”   Rail to Loudoun is a gamble at best but it is not a core government responsibility.

To make it easier to get your arms around what this Rail decision means in terms of cost we've itemized some Rail and other costs.

$172.6 million - is the cost of four new schools, a much needed renovation at Park View High School, and some money to emergency services equipment.

Simply put, spending on rail means something else is not going to get funded. We call these unfunded items, "opportunity costs." Now is the time to weigh the trade offs and decide if this spending makes sense.
$7 billion - Total construction costs of one shiny new rail line linking Loudoun County to the region's worn out under-funded Metro system including the latest in transportation aesthetics including stained glass and sculptures aerial tracks swooping high above the Beltway through Tysons Corner and across Loudoun's green pastures.
$100 million rail car sandwich,
resulting from poor maintenance?

$65 million - is the yearly gift to Metro riders whose low fares are expected to pay for only $47 million of the total yearly overhead bill leaving the rest for local jurisdictions like Loudoun to pay in rail ridership subsidies.= 1.2 schools/yr

$2 million - 1 Kawasaki 7000 series rail car

$886 million - 64 Kawasaki 7000 series rail cars (includes tax, tags, and destination charges ( 64 now on order)

$15,000 - the Heritage Foundation estimated that the cost per new rider attracted from a car
 (daily rider annualized).  That is enough to lease each new Dulles rail transit rider two BMW 328i convertibles for life and still return a few thousand dollars back to the taxpayer.

These are road Improvements we could have sooner if we opt out. Remember rail will cost Loudoun over $100 million/yr.
Pouring money into Rail means things like a Sycolin
Road overpass are likey to get passed over.

Sycolin Road Overpass of Route 15 Bypass: Estimated Cost: $15,000,000 = roughly 1/6 of 1 years payment to Metro

Russell Branch Parkway: Fill-in existing gaps between Route 641 and Broad Run. Construct four-lane median divided road. Estimates Cost: $16,000,000

Route 28: Expand from six to eight limited access lanes. Estimated Cost: $21,000,000 = 10.5 rail cars

Route 7: Fairfax County line to Route 28. Spot improvements including turn lanes, raised traffic islands, acceleration lanes, signal installations and modifications. Estimated Cost: $3,065,000 

$99.9 million Widening Route 50  From Route 28 in Fairfax to Poland Road in Loudoun

Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road, Route 659 Interchange: Interchange format TBD. Estimated Cost: $45,000,000

Route 659 (Belmont Ridge Road): Route 7 to Dulles Greenway. Expand to four-lane median divided road. Estimated Cost: $91,000,000

Time to decide folks...will that be cash or credit?

David LaRock

Hamilton Virginia

1 comment:

  1. Bad studies, nonexistant studies, and bad finance plans, all to pretend that we can pay for a slow little local rail line that costs twice what it should.

    We are being billed two times what this thing is worth - so where will the extra money be going? Will it be going into advertising? Campaign funds? Slush funds? Where?