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Chamber Backs Metro Tax Districts

Loudoun’s business community lays out terms it would support to pay for Metro.

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a proposal to create tax districts to pay for Metro’s proposed Silver Line extension to Ashburn.

As the Loudoun Board of Supervisors prepares for a June 18 meeting to continue discussing financing options if the board does agree to participate in the project, opponents have stepped up the rhetoric, distributing fliers to communities around the county.

If Loudoun participates in the project, a decision the board must make by July 4, the costs are estimated at about $270 million for the county’s share of construction, plus ongoing operation and maintenance costs. County finance staff estimates the project would cost the county between $11 million and $18 million annually in debt service payments, depending on the financing mechanism used.

Supervisors previously discussed the possibility of using a combination of a commercial and industrial tax, or C&I tax, and a rail service tax district to pay for construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed project. In addition, the possibility of winning permission from the state to establish a special tax district has been discussed.

“For many years, the Loudoun business community has said it is willing to ‘pay its fair share’ to help fund transportation investments that will improve Loudoun’s economic competitiveness and quality of life,” said Chamber President Tony Howard in a press release, adding that with the endorsement of the use of tax districts, “Loudoun’s business leaders have delivered a strong message to the Board of Supervisors that those businesses that will benefit the most from Dulles Rail are willing to bear the greatest burden to fund the County’s share of Northern Virginia’s most important transportation project.”

The commercial and industrial tax likely would apply to all business countywide; the county may consider less than a countywide application, but the revenue must equate to at least 85 percent of a countywide tax to comply with state law. Supervisors with districts farther away from proposed Metro stations have expressed concerns about a countywide tax.

A service tax district would apply to all property, including residential, within a designated distance from each rail station in Loudoun—one- and two-mile district are among the considerations. Several supervisors said they opposed taxing residential properties.

Another option that would require state authority would be to establish a special tax district, similar to the Route 28 Tax District, which could exclude residential properties.

The chamber has endorsed a countywide C&I district up to 10 cents per $100 of assessed value and a one-mile rail service district with a tax of up to 20 cents.

Howard said earlier this week that the chamber’s open to variations as well, including a tiered service district.

However, he also pointed out that the chamber would like there to be a sunset provision to reduce the taxes once construction of the project is complete, with some continued assessment to cover future maintenance and operations.

“We would like to see low rates after construction,” he said. In the chamber’s announcement it indicated a desire to see those taxes eliminated after expenses were covered for rail or if other sources of revenue surfaced.

The chamber’s letter to County Chairman Scott K. York about its position is posted below:

Chairman York,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, I would like to share with you an important development concerning the Chamber’s efforts to ensure the planned extension of Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to Loudoun County.

On May 23rd, Chamber’s Board of Directors adopted the following amendment to our organization’s long-standing position of support for the Dulles Rail Project:

“The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce supports the Loudoun Board of Supervisors adopting two additional real property tax levies that would generate revenues that will be directed to fund the County’s share of the capital costs and operations and maintenance costs associated with its obligations for the construction of Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. These levies include:

  1. Creating service districts that encompass an approximate one-mile radius surrounding the four proposed Metrorail stations in or near Loudoun County and imposing up to a maximum of an additional $.20 per $100 value tax rate on all taxable property within those service districts, and;
  2. Imposing a Commercial and Industrial (C&I) tax levy of up to a maximum $.10 per $100 value on commercial property throughout Loudoun County.

The Board of Directors of the Loudoun County Chamber endorses these new tax levies with the condition that the Board of Supervisors also adopt sunset provisions that would see these tax rates reduced, and eventually eliminated, when the revenues generated by these levies, along with other transportation funding sources, meets or exceeds the expenses related to the County’s capital and O&M expenses related to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.”

As you know, the Loudoun County Chamber has been a long and steadfast supporter of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. To make this project a reality, the Loudoun County Chamber has formed region-wide business partnerships that have made effective contributions towards securing additional state funds to reduce the projected toll increases that will be borne by the Dulles Toll Road drivers.

In addition, the Chamber’s “Rail To Loudoun” Coalition rallied the Northern Virginia business community to influence the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority to greatly reduce the scope of the project – including altering the station design and rail yard size at Dulles Airport, effectively reducing the cost of Phase 2 by $1 billion.

This Coalition also has successfully carried the business community’s message of opposition to a mandatory Project Labor Agreement for Phase 2, which the MWAA Board has subsequently eliminated. We firmly believe that, through the efforts of Northern Virginia’s business and elected leadership, the MWAA Board will back off its current plan to provide a 10% preference to contractors that include a PLA in their construction proposals.

For many years, the Loudoun Chamber has advocated the business community’s willingness to “pay its fair share” for transportation improvements that will advance Loudoun’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. It is beyond question that these desired outcomes can be achieved by connecting Loudoun via a mass transit rail link to Dulles Airport and our Nation’s Capital. The Dulles Corridor Rail line will relieve congestion on Northern Virginia’s roads, connect workers throughout the region to companies in Loudoun County and provide a strong economic boost through Transit-Oriented Developments near the rail stations in and near Loudoun County.

For these reasons, the Chamber’s Board of Directors supports these targeted business tax levies, within reasonable parameters and for a limited time period, to generate revenues for the specific purpose of funding the construction and operation of the Dulles Corridor Rail project in Loudoun County.

As business leaders in the communities that you represent, the Chamber’s Board appreciates your serious consideration of the significant economic and quality of life benefits that this project will bring to Loudoun County’s residents and taxpayers.

On behalf of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, our Board of Directors and our 1,200 members, I strongly urge your support of Loudoun County’s continued participation in Phase II.

Thank you for considering the Loudoun County Chamber’s perspective on this critical business and quality of life issue. Please contact me at (571) 209-9020 or thoward@loudounchamber.org if you should have any questions about our positioning on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Sincerely,

Tony Howard
President & CEO

t_joseph June 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Ok, Bob. I tried to help you but I can see that I'm only adding to your irritation. I've prayed for you this morning and will do so again, especially if Metro goes through. Take care and God bless you. At least it's a beautiful day today!
Bob Bruhns June 18, 2012 at 02:42 AM
With a Billion and a half dollars of overcharge in this job, such tactics are to be expected. How else can the incredible reversals that we have seen, be explained? Loudoun and Fairfax Counties were ready to say no to Phase II in 2011, and then the FTA showed up and dumped the Rt 28 station AND the Phase II parking garages onto them - and the counties were suddenly happy? Please. Sadly, the People did not take notice of this obvious and blatant nonsense. In the end, this will probably be another case of the People getting the (very bad) government they deserve.
joe brewer June 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Tj Bribery is where the advantage is intended to bring about an improper performance by another person of a relevant function or activity, or to reward such improper performance. Your offer to Bob just goes to show what a pos punk you really are. Hope you get to read this.
t_joseph June 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I'll pray for you too Joe ! thank you for your colorful language and passion God bless you as well!
Melvin Summers June 18, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Bob the population supports the Metro coming out to Ashburn. I don't know why you like busses so much but they are not the answer to our traffic problems. Our roads are clogged, and our air is polluted. We might not be able to fix it 100 percent but we will make a nice start on a solution to both of these problems by building Metro. Yes to Metro
joe brewer June 18, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Yo tj there is enough information in the bible that is easy enough for you to understand. Bribery is wrong, ungodlike and morally corrupt, instead of praying for me pray for yourself!
t_joseph June 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
thank you Joe - you may be making a good point. which bible verses are you specifically referencing? i can look them up and learn from them. no worries, i do pray for myself everyday! thanks again
The Baconator June 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Everyone in this area knows we will use the Metro and knows we have for quite some time. We pay more then enough money to Richmond in taxes and they need to give a little back to us and help us build quality lasting public transportation in Loudoun.
Stacey F June 19, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Businesses WANT Metro in Loudoun - close enough to DC, close enough to Dulles... no business is unaware of the costs they will have to pay as they grow in Loudoun. This deal isn't free, but the benefits are amazing!
Stacey F June 19, 2012 at 01:50 AM
But, Bob, I absolutely see a benefit, and I'm pretty sure I live close to you, but IN Loudoun County. I can't wait for Metro, even if it takes me paying my fair share in order to get Loudoun to where it SHOULD be. We don't need to remain in the stone age, we are a vital region that supports the whole DC Metro area - why shouldn't we benefit from that status?
J Williams June 19, 2012 at 02:54 AM
How is it bad for businesses? Of course they look elsewhere because Loudoun lacks the infrastructure to support many businesses..which is one reason we NEED the metro! You need to spend money to make money, Business 101. The rail will bring nothing but benefits to business looking to develop in the area!
abroderick June 19, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Those of us who live in Loudoun County would use the Metro and would see the benefits of it. Doesn't that saying go the two things you can't avoid in life are death and taxes? We're going to pay them anyway. We might as well have some of the money invested in us! I welcome the Metro.
Bob Bruhns June 19, 2012 at 03:59 AM
If the costs are distributed fairly, this rail project will not be a net benefit - because it is premature, it is overpriced, it is overfinanced, and its costs are understated. It is going to be a surprise-a-minute of more and more costs for a good long time. That is why some pretend that bus is a bad idea and causes pollution, when you will need bus for about 99% of your population that wants to get to the rail. It is also why some pretend that there should be no tax district because people in Lovettsville will be just as rich as property owners right at the rail station in Ashburn, when even the Chamber of Commerce admits otherwise. You see, if the costs are distributed UNfairly, some will make a killing. Wake up and smell the coffee, that's what's going on.
TISH G June 19, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Amen.. death and taxes cant be avoided. I would rather see the metro come than more buses polluting the air and congesting already congested traffic ways.
Bob Bruhns June 19, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Guess what - you will need bus, day and night, to get about 99% of the people to and from the rail. The traffic will be worse, because only a small percentage of people will take the train, and that will be more than made up by the higher density that will come. This rail is premature - the businesses do not even EXIST yet at the stations, and it is overpriced about two to one. As a result, you will have to overfinance a premature overcharge, and that will break the bank with something this expensive. The claims that the toll road will pay for most this are lies - so on top of the above, a billion dollar bond will be needed from Fairfax County AND Loudoun County to reduce those tolls, costing another 50 million a year or more for 50 years or more. WMATA needs 13 Billion dollars for maintenance, so guess what will happen. The businesses in Fairfax County had the foresight to get their contributions capped before the prices ballooned. In Loudoun County they tried to avoid them altogether - too bad they lost that game, tsk tsk. Mr. Cuccinelli has it right - this is a ripoff.
Luisa June 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I'm really over the attitude some people have of reaping the benefits without making the sacrifices. There are many things I pay for through my taxes that I get zero benefit from and I'm not sitting here crying about it and harassing people with misinformation and scare tactics. The difference here is everyone will benefit from the metro coming to Loudoun County whether you want to admit it or not. Don't tell me for one second those of you throwing temper tantrums over this won't be riding it, I guarantee you will. Yes to metro!!
Melvin Summers June 19, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I agree Luisa, the opt outers like to act like they will get no benefit from the Metro. The truth is everyone will benefit in Loudoun and and the surrounding counties weather they use it or not. Even if you don't use it, you wont be competing with thousands of cars that are in a parking garage. Thousands of cars at each Metro station. They act like these Metro parking garages will be empty or something. Yes to Metro!!!
J Williams June 19, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I think you need to get a sense of humor Joe.
J Williams June 19, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I also do not understand why they insist no one will be riding the metro. All this howling about the tolls going up and/or the gas tax and they cannot see that the obvious solution is for more people to use public transport? I can't wait for this to get started..and I live within one of the proposed tax districts.
Melvin Summers June 20, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Yes they would have us believe that the stations will all be empty and that no one is going to even use the Metro in Loudoun. Twenty three thousand spaces at the parking garage will all be empty. If we fill half that garage, just that one garage, then that will be 11.5 thousand cars not on our roads to DC. I bet we will be filling more then half, every day.
joe brewer June 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I'll tell you again Melvin you are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts. Where do you get 23k parking places? More like 65 hundred, quite a leap wouldn't you say about 350%?
t_joseph June 20, 2012 at 04:38 PM
hi Joe - just following up on my Monday night response to your suggestion. can you relay those bible verses you were specifically referencing? i really do intend to look them up and learn from them. thanks! i hope you're able to stay cool on what will surely be one of the hottest days of the summer!
joe brewer June 20, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Shooo fly!
t_joseph June 20, 2012 at 06:25 PM
ahh, back to the name calling....and i had hoped you actually were familiar with the bible or would be willing to get into it since you made a point of referencing it. that was my hope because when you earlier called yourself and others w**res, i thought you might need some more of the unconditional love that's offered to you there. well, maybe some day brother. meanwhile, I'll do as you ask and "shooo" ! i really do wish you and folks like Bob B nothing but goodness ! life is to be enjoyed, i think.
Bob Bruhns June 20, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Oh boy, here is this discredited bus pollution argument again. If bus exhaust is a real issue, you'd better pack up and leave Loudoun County right now, because about 99% of your population will need bus to get to and from the stations - and those buses will have to run day and night like the Metro does. But wait - we are in the 21st century now. Bus can run on electric power, where that is available, and switch to compressed natural gas in other areas. You'll want to have dedicated bus roads, where bus will build up a transit corridor, and then you can upgrade these roads to rail, when the time comes. Are you or your leaders planning any of that? I think the answer is no, since this tired bus exhaust talking point keeps coming up. So if you aren't reserving the future rail paths with bus lanes, what is to prevent them from being developed into strip-malls and other sprawl-like things, so no such path will even be possible? Care to tell us what you and/or your so-called 'leaders' are doing to prevent that from happening? And (1) do you really care - or (2) is this all just a fake, phony political circus, for the sole purpose of pushing this bogus rail plan right now? (I believe the answer is choice #2.)
Bob Bruhns June 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Sure, I'll take Metro from Ashburn down to Fairfax... oops, uh, well from Sterling to Lovettsville... ooops... uh, well..
The Baconator June 21, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Anything a bus can do Metro can do better. Carries more people, doesn't hold up traffic, does not have nasty cancer causing exhaust. Our population is exploding the roads are jammed, it's time for Metro
abroderick June 21, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Heck I'll be riding the Metro! And Bob, I fail to grasp your point. I will ride the Metro. It will take me to places I want to go. I will benefit from its creation.
abroderick June 21, 2012 at 03:45 AM
A lot of these people don't like to back up their arguments with actual references that they didn't create. I'm sorry they won't have a logical conversation with you that is not trying to scare people. I hope you have a great day too! Sincerely, Your fellow Metro supporter
t_joseph June 21, 2012 at 01:43 PM
thank you abroderick. i've run into people who write things like Bob and Joe all my life - their only impact on me is concern for them. can't you just feel their pain? I suspect that for them, this is not really all about a train and money. if they learned today that Metro was dead because of their posts and everyone congratulated them on making the difference, how long do you think they would be happy? or do you think they would just keep acting the same way again and again and again?..heaven help them if metro goes through - that could fuel resentment for the rest of their lives. oh man. my guess is that they've been like this for a long time. that deep down inside, something is troubling their souls i think. someone hurt them, they suffered a major loss, life has not panned out as they'd expected....maybe something truly tragic happened to them, that would make us all understand them better....you can't really know. i do suspect that folks that post constantly and in the way they do are crying out for help in some way. they do not seem to know peace. to simply breathe in and out and find joy in something..anything...Lord have mercy on them and all of us - because on a given day, i can act the same way. i'm just glad that i've learned that, through prayer, i don't have to STAY that way. and that metro or no metro, it will not define who i am or take away from my energies to support good things like my children, my spouse, my co-workerd, and our troops abroad

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