LTE: Chamber Wrong on Metro Funding

Activist opposed to tolls for Metro says the business community should pay to keep tolls low, not state or federal government.

Well look out folks, Tony the Chamber guy is back from his big win selling that shiny train to the trusting people of Loudoun. This time he is after, you guessed it, a tax increase to cover the tab for all these ambitious new projects. But before launching into a response to Mr. Howard, I want to say how glad I am that the President & CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce is concerned about soaring tolls, as he should be.

Why? Because tolls are just like taxes. They pick pockets and make people and businesses want to go elsewhere. Tony knows that. In fact I’ll bet he knows that SAIC, one of the largest employers in Tysons, is so excited to have a new Metro stop coming to their front door in Tysons that they are going to build the three office buildings they talked about. Not so. Instead, they are selling out before the shiny train and all the new taxes it will bring even get there. But that’s Tysons, not Loudoun, right?

Next, Tony talks about a leadership problem and again I agree, but for different reasons. The challenge of diminishing transportation funding has been no secret. It is a hard reality of a down economy and decades of big spending. The real leadership crisis is demonstrated by elected officials signing the Metro blank check when the bank is empty. Tax districts are fine, but you can only milk that idea for so much money. The double whammy is that remodeling the station area roads will cost billions on top of the cost of the shiny train. I believe that was brought up over and over before the decision … and ignored.

What Mr. Howard is lobbying for this time is funding for the station-area bailout that he is a paid promoter of. This is a sort of call to spend our way into prosperity, or something, but don’t buy his fast talk. The prosperity coming is to a small circle of Chamber profiteers, the rest of us are left to pick up the tab. Like it or not, that is the new reality that Tony is pedaling.

The Commonwealth is facing a crisis that is threatening our economy and quality of life, but raising taxes is not the way out; just ask Maryland. People are coming to Virginia from there because we have lower taxes and more jobs. 

Want to talk about a dysfunctional transportation program? That would be one that commits vast resources to projects without rating the merit. The FTA didn't make that mistake with the Silver line. They looked closely and gave it failing ratings and refused to fund Phase 2.  

The problem Tony won’t talk about is that a small group of his friends on the Chamber begged for this mutt of a project and they got their way. So they and the station area developers need to step in and pay to fill the gaps. Virginia has already pitched in and paid to build the Dulles Toll Road. That is a sizable contribution to the Dulles Corridor I'd say.

The General Assembly and taxpayers had better look out. Tony is talking new taxes, and when Tony starts a talkin’, our tax dollars go a walkin’.

David LaRock
Hamilton, VA

Mr. LaRock is a member of NoTollIncrease.org and was part of Loudoun Opt Out.


Bob Bruhns October 04, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Loudoun County was discussing a rail tax district in 2010, and then somehow it all fell into a memory hole until the eleventh hour in 2012. Clearly somebody wanted county taxpayers to pay for their windfall, and this is most likely still the case. Loudoun County residents and taxpayers should watch this tax district very carefully until it is enacted, because things like this tend to get trick, strategic changes at the very last minute. Don't forget that the reason Loudoun Supervisor Ken Reid changed his position on July 3, 2012, swinging the BOS vote in favor of Rail to Loudoun, was that he claimed that this tax district would pay for Rail to Loudoun. If that can now be subverted, the taxpayers of Loudoun County will have been tricked and robbed. Stay tuned, and watch who tries to dump the costs onto Loudoun County taxpayers! Remember, MWAA says Loudoun County needs to pay $275 million for Phase II costs, PLUS $168 million for the three Metro parking garages (two at Rt 772, and one at Rt 606). Don't be tricked, thinking that some builder will build those garages for free - they will get parking fees, etc, that would otherwise have gone to the County, and apparently it is not unusual for the municipality to pay many costs anyway. It behooves taxpayers to be vigilant right now. By the way - those are very high prices they are charging you. http://www.bruhns.us/civic/DullesRail/Dulles-Rail---Silver-Line-overcost-report---Bruhns.pdf


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