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Loudoun Metro: Financing Options Discussed

As decision looms on Silver Line participation, supervisors wade through details, analysis.

As the Loudoun Board of Supervisors begins a series of outreach meetings about the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, much of the long-awaited information about parking needs and possible project financing methods has been presented to the board and negotiations may truly begin.

Possibly the key discussion residents and supervisors had been waiting for centers on how the county would pay for such a project.

Staff members described two tools that could be used in a range of scenarios to pay for the project. The primary new sources of revenue under consideration include a countywide commercial and industrial, or C&I, tax along with a service district tax for properties within one or two miles of the rail stations. Variations were also shown at increments down to zero C&I or service district taxes. In addition, discussions include the possibility of seeking legislation to tailor a custom tax district around the Loudoun Metro stops.

“What is interesting is in some of these scenarios we don’t have to use any general funds whatsoever,” said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn). “To the degree possible, we need to place the bulk or the lion’s share on the those that reap the most benefit.”

A C&I district would tax all properties in commercial or industrial zones, excluding apartment buildings, regardless of location in the county, while a service district would tax all property within a specified distance from the rail stations, including all residential real estate. The scenarios presented by staff showed combinations of using those taxes along with the county’s share of a regional gas tax and general fund revenue.

Some supervisors balked at the idea of instituting new taxes, particularly anything that would apply to a business  far away from the rail stations.

“I’ve never seen so many skunks and rats involved in the public process in my entire 12 years” as supervisor, Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said, accusing some board members of conspiring about ways “to skin the public.”

Delgaudio’s name had come up earlier when Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said the board was dealing with a decision made by prior boards, including a 2002 statement of support for the project that won Delgaudio’s vote.

Volpe asked staff to confirm assertions that Loudoun would not have to contribute to bus related operating, maintenance or capital expenses as part of its annual contribution to WMATA. A recent discussion with WMATA representatives did not result in clarity for several board members. Such costs would be of great concern to her constituents, Volpe said, because rail provides no direct benefit to them, but it could impact their taxes.

“It won’t make a darn bit of difference on the value of my home or anyone in my neighborhood,” she said, adding that the project would not benefit businesses in Sterling who may wonder why they should pay a C&I tax.

Scenarios discussed during the work session included a C&I tax of 10 cents per $100 of assessed value and a “rail district” tax of 9 cents. Other variations include when the taxes would start, the size of the rail district and at what time such taxes would be rolled back. Some scenarios did include the use of the general fund dollars. Additional scenarios also involved higher and lower tax rates for the C&I and service districts.

For more information and a list of upcoming meetings, visit the county's web page about the project.

Bob Bruhns June 03, 2012 at 10:36 AM
In most cases, I really don't see why a bus would not have done just as well. But people like to spend money we don't have, and the more, the better, it seems. It's become the American Way, and it has certainly worked for countries like Greece and Spain.
The BSD Guy June 03, 2012 at 07:38 PM
People such as TGG are also not obligated to "report" to Mr. Bruhns, who I guess now thinks this is his site and everyone must meet his standards or be kicked off. Sorry, Bob, you have no authority here. People such as TGG are also not required to be obsessed with this thread and post on it every three minutes either. I couldn't agree more with The Analyst....but he's really just repeating what I said a few threads up, namely CHECK EVERYTHING OUT. This thread is, however, an excellent lesson for those who wish to see how developers use trickery, fake statistics, and misinformation to con people.
Uncle Smartypants June 05, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I prefer the "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics" quote (Twain, maybe),but I hear you. My thing is, and I'm old school, in a proper debate you have to quote your sources. So although my sources may have been biased (and I don't know that), at least I let people know what they are. Then readers still capable of critical thinking (like yourself) can evaluate the source and determine for his or herself if there is bias one way or the other. But I don't understand your comments about the Washington Post. My link was to an article in the Washington Business Journal, not affiliated in any way with the WaPo. I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I hope Loudoun opts out. I hope the Silver Line stops at Dulles. I don't think it makes sense to go to Ashburn at this date.
Bob Bruhns June 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I'm just looking for sources of better information than the 86% claim that some people throw around. Something just seems wrong with these figures. 86% occupancy DOES sound high - but I noticed somebody saying that an 82.2% occupancy figure means that owners are 'struggling' to get tenants, in the June 1, 2012 Washington Business Journal article "Reston Town Center 'point of pride' for developer as it celebrates 22 years." So 82% means that owners are struggling to find tenants, but 86% means that developers should all run out and build more buildings? Something has to be wrong with these figures somewhere. Meanwhile, none of this really relates to the issue of overpriced, premature rail. It's just a different example of strange numbers being used to support construction in search of a purpose.
The BSD Guy June 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Read the comments from "The Analyst" above. I think they hit the nail on the head. The Washington Post is not what it used to be and can no longer be relied on for "cutting edge" journalism. One example is "The Analyst's" point above that all their reporter did was reference a document provided by a development firm. Another is the recent blunder they made when they misquoted Barak Obama when the source of the distorted quote was Steve Doocy....that's right, the Washington Posts "investigative journalism" went as deep as watching "Fox & Friends" in the morning. to obtain facts. As an FYI, "The Analyst" also made another post at: http://reston.patch.com/articles/developers-have-vision-for-crescent-apts Interestingly he points out that a lot of the mega buildings around Dunn Loring were empty, with many owners filing for bankruptcy rather than filling up as the Rah-Rah boys suggest and promise.

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