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Final Stretch on Loudoun’s Metro Vote

As critical deadline nears, opposition pushes against the project; some proposed tax districts are set aside.

With about a week to decide whether to participate in the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors has set one final work session for 5 p.m. Friday, June 29, at the County Government Center in Leesburg to discuss potential ways to pay for it. And late last week, the opposition to the project continued to distribute fliers that say homeowners and businesses “will get buried in debt and taxes.”

The , with a sunset provision.

The fliers left on cars last week join an array of flies left in eastern Loudoun communities in recent weeks. An unidentified group left fliers on cars at a . Fliers were also left in the Dulles District recently, according to Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles).

“What should be troubling is, some individual won’t put their name on the information their handing out, but they instead put the offical county seal and they put Loudoun County transit logos on those,” he said. “This whole thing is fraudulent. It should tell you what the quality of those arguments are.”

LoudounOptOut has campaigned against the project and has driven its Tax Pig vehicle around the county to oppose it.

“I went home last night to find the Tax Pig on my street,” Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said during last week’s work session, before the latest fliers were distributed. The fliers stated “FINAL Property Tax Increase Notice” at the top and indicated taxes would be going up.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) defended the tax pig and agreed with LoudounOptOut’s sentiments.

“In my 13 years, there has never been a more splendid opportunity to spend so much money with so little accountability on the part of the nine people that are making the decision,” he said. “It is the death star of debt and it is the death star of spending. If that pig has more influence than some of us, it’s because that pig worked hard and I salute you tax pig.”

The flier Buona spoke of referenced a tax district that does not appear to be in consideration any longer. During the board’s most recent Metro work session, supervisors signaled their intention to remove the idea of taxing existing residential properties near the stations. The board elected—in reversible straw votes—to remove from consideration two potential tax districts that included all real estate with one- and two-mile concentric circles around the two Metro stations in Ashburn, the one at Dulles Airport and the Route 28 station; the latter two were included because they were within those distances from the county. The concentric circle proposals had been examples presented by county staff off potential districts.

Supervisors also voted—again in a non-binding straw vote—not to use general fund revenue to pay for the project.

An attempt to remove a countywide commercial and industrial tax failed; and a tax district comprised of the county’s eastern planning districts also remains in consideration, after additional votes.

Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) created one district that seemed to appeal the most to those willing to consider a tax district (see picture). It became referred to as the Purple District because of the color of the line used to outline it on a map. The district includes the entire Dulles International Airport property within the county boundaries and commercial properties in an eastern cluster around the planned stations. And while the Purple District excludes existing residential properties, new homes constructed within the district would be taxed. The district would include properties currently within other tax districts.

With the purple district, supervisors are also considering an "inner core district" that is envisioned to benefit the most from rail and therefore pay the highest real estate tax related to rail.

During the board’s business meeting last week, about three dozen people spoke during public input time, all but two of whom spoke about the Metro project. Project supporters have outnumbered opponents in email messages to the board, a recent survey and a previous public input session, but opponents reversed that trend at the input meeting.

In other Metro news, a measure to install a permanent inspector general to keep an eye on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its board of directors won the approval a U.S. House of Representatives Committee last week. MWAA was given the task of constructing the Silver Line project and has come under scrutiny because of the practices of some members of the board of directors. However, a review of MWAA’s oversight of phase one of the project produced no significant concerns.

The $2.7 billion phase two of the project would require Loudoun to pay about $268 million toward construction. While Loudoun is only responsible for 4.8 percent of the costs, that 4.8 percent includes phase one, which is estimated to cost $2.9 billion when complete. Loudoun's share for construction, plus ongoing maintenance and operation are estimated to cost the county $11 million to $18 million in annual payments, depending on financing options chosen, until the construction costs have been paid. After that the county would continue to pay a share of operation and maintenance costs annually. The tax districts under consideration are intended to cover those costs.

More information about the project can be found on the county's website. The county website also provides contact information for members of the Loudoun board.

Opinions and coverage of the Metro debate can be found on Ashburn Patch here.

[Correction: The wrong date was initially listed for the board's final work session. The correct date is now listed.]

abroderick July 01, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Bob, I just want you to know that I have been reading some of your posts and you have inspired me to use outdated phrases to promote the Metro. You just make it look like so much fun! The Metro would be the Bee's knees! Don't listen to the poppycock people are trying to spread. Bob, who do you think you are, Clark Gable? Now if you excuse me, I'm going to go talk to a man about a cow. Boondoggle.
Bob Bruhns July 01, 2012 at 09:19 AM
Take a good look at the arguments for this overpriced, premature rail extension. There really aren't any good arguments for paying two times what this thing should cost, and mortgaging generations of decsendants to pay for it. Almost all there really is, is motivation to push for it, by people who will collect that overpayment, and by people who will hit the jackpot with properties really close to the proposed rail stations over on the east side of the county, and by a few people who (for the time being) have jobs near stops on the Metro line. Of course, it would have worked just as well for them to have BUS in the rail right of way, given that the vast majority will have to take a bus to get to and from the rail stations anyway. Pro-rail people have no argument for rail over Bus Rural Transit, other than a raving Supervisor wailing "Bus just won't cut it." Hmm, and that was the same supervisor who said "MWAA is causing this project to derail. The numbers aren’t adding up and when the numbers don’t add up, you can’t continue making decisions that are costing the project more and more.” And now, although the numbers still don't add up, but he is pushing for the project. Flip, flop. But that's nothing new, he flip flopped about the cost of the job in 2011. Oh, it was too high, and then FTA came in 2011 and dumped three parking garages on the county, for the sole purpose of hiding their costs - and then he was happy! Such is the pro-Metro logic.
The Baconator July 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM
This area needs more then buses Bob and thats what the Opt inners know. Plus bob for all your love of busses, Build the Metro, and the Metro will bring better buses. You can sit there when the buses come bob and know that you have Metro to thank for them being there. Train and bus working together for a common goal, cleaning up our traffic mess. The train can't do it alone and either can buses Bob, this is the 21st century and we deserve both forms of public transportation to escape our traffic nightmare.
Victoria Glenn July 02, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Again Bob, the only person I see hollering about overpricing is you, you and your own conspiracy theory. Premature? This project has been in the works since before I was born, hardly too soon, more like long overdue! YES TO METRO!!
joe brewer July 03, 2012 at 11:59 AM
[Editor’s note: As currently proposed, Leesburg residents and businesses would not be part of the Metro tax districts. Although, if the proposed districts do not draw the expected revenue, or costs rise, the county could consider another revenue source, including general tax dollars.]

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