Friday, June 29, 2012

Ken Reid's Words...

From Ken's Website June 29, 2012
"It is possible that opposition may be generated and the Board will have opted in and back out of the tax district, only to find that we are funding Dulles Rail at the expense of schools and other needs. This would be very bad."      Ken Reid
Tax surcharge could be instituted as condition of opting into Metro     

Dear Constituents:

The Documentation on Dulles Rail shows that extending Metro into Loudoun County will NOT alleviate traffic congestion; will be used by fewer than 10 percent of all Loudoun Commuters when it opens in Loudoun around 2018; AND will NOT yield a positive economic impact until 2035-2040, yet will begin charging Leesburg homeowners about 3 cents on top of their County and Town taxes, only to rise as Metro's costs increase. 

Metro will NOT necessarily boost our jobs base, will NOT help; home values (except within 1 mile of the two proposed stations, according to data) and will be competition for funding for schools, public safety and other services. Plus, opting out of rail will save $580 million on the project, and about $1.20 each way for users of the Dulles Toll Road (tolls may go to $4.50 EACH way next year!)

Loudoun's estimated share to be part of Metro in 2018 is $18 million a year, of which $11 million would come from gas taxes we pay at the pump to support our commuter and local buses and Leesburg's transportation needs. All of this money would be lost to Metro if we opt in and Loudoun will be forever beholden to an unelected and unaccountable Metro Board and Metro's never-ending demands for more cash to maintain its corroding system.  This includes $1 million in annual funds to the Town of Leesburg, which has been beneficial to finance many road projects, such as the widening of Sycolin Road.

However, many feel having Metro within Loudoun's borders is a "good thing," despite the fact a station will be accessible to us via Rt. 28 at the Toll Road -- for which Loudoun taxpayers will not have to pay a dime -- since Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors elected to "opt in" to Phase 2.

Therefore, one of the fair and necessary conditions for my supporting Metro past Dulles Airport to Ashburn is a tax district to support Metro and Loudoun's road needs. Two options seem to have some merit:

1.  A county-wided dedicated tax for Metro AND new roads and buses.  This could be 3-4 cents on $100 of assessed value for every homeowner and business.  This may help replace the funds Leesburg will lose from the gas tax, along with Virginia Regional Transit -- which provides bus service to many transit-dependent low income people.   

2.  A local service district around the two proposed stations in Ashburn and the Loudoun side of the Rt. 28 station.  Our staff says this tax would have to be .21 cents on every $100 of assessed value in order to fund all of Metro, and perhaps some funds for roads for this area.

Both service districts can pay for Metro operating costs, as well as the cost of Phase I and II, which is $268 million.  So, the Board will be continuing discussions of this in the coming weeks. 

I could support this service district as a condition of opting into rail.  Also, the tax rate can be lowered or raised if need be, depending on the actual costs of Metro.   It may also instill fiscal discipline to cut less important areas of the general budget and if we expand our roads, we can attract more jobs.

We know that Loudoun needs $546 million in road funds JUST for missing links in EASTERN LOUDOUN, and closing those missing links will help Leesburg commuters, too.  But the Leesburg Bypass needs interchanges, especially at Edwards Ferry Road, which is a dangerous pedestrian crossing.  An interchange will obviate the need for folks to walk across the Bypass at Ft. Evans.  We also need funds for Battlefield Parkway and Route 7.  So, a County-wide  tax may have merit to help build some of these improvements.

However, I would like a decision on this tax district BEFORE the Board of Supervisors decides July 3 to opt into Metro, or opt out.  This may mean we need to request an extension of time from the other "partners" in Dulles Rail, specifically, Metro, the Airports Authority and Fairfax County.

It could be a big mistake to "opt in" and then figure out how to pay for rail. Three Boards of Supervisors since 2002 have punted on the decision on how to pay for Metro, other than throwing the $268 million construction cost in our CIP as if it were another high school or two.   It is possible that opposition may be generated and the Board will have opted in and back out of the tax district, only to find that we are funding Dulles Rail at the expense of schools and other needs. This would be very bad.
Therefore, I would request residents to write the Board of Supervisors and support the service district concept.
Please sign up to speak at upcoming meetings on this, or any other topic.  You can speak every 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings, generally starting around 5:30 pm.  You also can email the full Board of Supervisors at 

Thanks, and God Bless!

Ken Reid,
Supervisor, Leesburg District
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors

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