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Letourneau says ‘virtually zero’ chance General Assembly, localities will support Metro sales tax

The east side of the future Dulles Airport station. Courtesy Photo
Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) says there is “virtually zero” chance the General Assembly and nearby localities will back a one-cent regional sales to help finance the D.C. region's beleaguered Metro system.

Letourneau, who serves as the vice chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), called the regional sales tax that an MWCOG panel recently recommended a “disappointing response” that had “virtually zero” chances of the General Assembly approving it or each locality adopting it.

“[The sales tax] takes the easy way out,” Letourneau said in a newsletter to constituents. “Sure, imposing a new tax would raise revenue and allow Metro to meet its capital needs, but it does nothing to solve the ongoing issues, and it treats Virginia unfairly. Under the scenario proposed, Virginians would pay 51 percent of the cost, with D.C. and Maryland splitting the rest.”

Letoureau’s remarks come as nearly 50 percent of construction for the Silver Line into Loudoun is complete. The second phase of the Silver Line is slated to open in 2020.

For years Loudoun officials and regional politicians have been calling for dedicated sources of funding from the federal government and the General Assembly to help pay for Metro’s high operational costs.

To make things trickier, Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in April called for a $500 million dedicated regional revenue stream for capital improvements, but he did not indicate where it should come from.

At the time, Wiedefeld said $15.5 billion would be needed over the next decade. Without a change to its business model, Wiedefeld said funding jurisdictions would have to continue to choose each year “between substantially reducing service” or finding $12 billion more in public money for Metro’s operations over the next decade.

Letourneau said he has been working with Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet on a “a different way to approach the problem” that would allow Metro to “better utilize” the nearly $1 billion annually it already receives without having to impose a new tax. He noted that Metro has to pay cash for everything and therefore cannot bond.

“That's not a sustainable model and not how any other entity of that size operates,” the Dulles supervisor said.

A recent study by the Washington Post found that a majority of northern Virginia residents support a regional sales tax to increase Metro funding, with 53 percent of northern Virginians in favor of the regional tax and 40 percent opposed.

Loudoun officials hope to use the county-created tax districts set up around the future Metro stations to pay for the county's share of the transit system.

But some local supervisors have expressed concern that if the county is unable to secure a dedicated source of funding, Loudoun may need to double the revenue for the Metro tax districts. In the event that does not work, an entirely new tax district may have to be created.

“I am pleased that even as the ‘newcomer’ to Metro, Loudoun County is taking the lead in finding a solution set, and the work that Tim and his team are doing is progressing. I look forward to further reporting on it later this summer,” Letourneau said.

Comments


Metro is right up there with our career corrupt politicians. They over pay 90% of their people to get the littlest work done. Then they try to ask/take more money by telling all the sky is falling. I’m still trying to understand who will drive out of there way to get to metro stops, pay $10-20+ to ride for over an hour into DC? and eventually pay to park during the week(which will happen). Bus Service seemed like a good Idea. I wonder if the good economic Doctor from George Mason will say a few words after Metro failure in Loudoun? I think all on Board should be held accountable and pay say $ 100K fine when it fails(all of Loudoun is taxed more to make up for huge losses).


“Especially those THREE ridiculous stops in Tysons”

Was it just coincidence that former Fairfax Chairman and current Congressman Gerry Connolly had the Metro stop put right at his employer’s (SAIC) doorstep?


I can understand the metro extension out to Dulles, that probably should have been built 20 years ago.  And an argument could be made for 1 stop in Reston, but that’s about it.

Literally every other stop on the Silver Line was created at the whim of real estate developers.  Especially those THREE ridiculous stops in Tysons, but that’s Fairfax’s problem.  They’re going to throw up some high density housing around the stations, collect the profits, and then leave the rest of us on the hook for the added infrastructure, metro costs, traffic, etc. 
And as usual the BOS is just going to sit back and let them do it.


Skyprince you’ve got to be kidding. The Metro is being built almost solely to serve the DC politicians. The extension beyond the airport is little more than a ploy to suck in fools who change their mind on the vote at that last moment like the infamous Ken Reid. How anyone can vote for that charlatan I don’t know. Washington wanted the Metro to Dulles for the convenience of Washingtonians. Therefore it should end at Dulles and let Washington pay for it. All it will do for Loutdoun county is create greater problems with too much growth in too short a number of years.
When all of Loudoun looks like Arlington, or even Sterling, what sane person will want to live in Loudoun?


The guy who voted for Metro and was 20% of the deciding yes vote tell us there is zero chance are we to believe this hack? No sales tax, no more gas tax which Metro already milks goes to Metro. You sold it with tax districts, live with the piece of junk!


5 Supervisors Voted for this.  York got voted out of office.  Williams was imprisoned.  Reid switched from a Supervisor back to Leesburg Town Council.  Buona remains but got reelected by a very slim margin.  Letourneau voted for it and got reelected by a big margin (70%).


All these headaches for 2 measly miles of Metro in Loudoun.

The poll saying a majority of Virginians want a Metro Tax is bogus.  The Wash Post poll was conducted by the Schar School of Government and Policy and GMU.  That is, the school that is funded by Dwight Schar the billionaire developer of NV Homes/Ryan Homes.

Note that Mr. Schar is also a minority owner of the Washington Redskins who would like a brand new shiny stadium near the new Metro line.


I feel increasing to the per-gallon gas tax (state-wide) to a level that funds metro AND completely eliminate the numerous toll taxes being created around the state AND increases funds to improve/widen roads in the area as needed is the way to go.


Is the extension of the metro from Dulles to Ashburn even real? Does it have a business plan including how much is expected to be charged for the last mile and what path would it even take as it is not likely to physically cross the entrance facilities coming into Dulles Airport? With a western road access to Dulles and the metro why would it even make sense to spend billions to go the extra miles without a business plan showing how it benefits anyone other than MWAA and their property tax free parking lots!
Bob O__ Esq.


How is Virginia paying 51% really unfair? We are benefiting from the new expansion that isn’t helping Maryland or DC. Metro will bring back what we invest in increased business activity around the stations and larger region. I’m for taxing new development in the marketing region around the new stations.  Also, as this is a transportation issue, an increase in the gas tax would hardly be noticed.  Gas goes up and down 20 cents a week and we all adjust.


Start posting the mugs of those LoCo morons who voted for Metro to come to Loudoun. It was not needed and only greases the palms of those slimy developers who want to suck more out of Loudoun. I asked a bunch of friends at a party on Memorial Day how many will take Metro when it opens in Loudoun? Out of about 20 people, not one..not…one…plans to take Metro. They figure it will take too long and be very expensive. Same for the airport, I doubt anyone who flew across the country or world is going to want to collect their bags at the carousel and then take Metro into DC…nope…it did not work at JFK and won’t work here. Wait till it opens, it will be a “ghost train.” No taxes to pay for it…let those foolish enough to ride it to pay an accelerated fare!! Not me…will never take it.


Metro will have better luck cutting costs to than getting tax increases in local regions to foot the bill.

If Metro needs money, let them raise fares. Those who USE METRO should fund metro. I see no reason why a stay at home mom should pay $0.01 tax on everything she purchases vs the $50k yr Government worker living in the burbs using metro everyday.


Not in a hundred years do I believe that Northern Virginia supports a sales tax to fund metro. Shut it down, now, we will be better off.


Does anyone believe for a second that 53% of northern Virginians favor a Metro tax?

Seems very unlikely to me.

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