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Loudoun leaders brace for fight over Metro, transportation funding

Loudoun County supervisors sent a strong message of disapproval to state lawmakers last week, opposing a bill that, if passed, would reallocate $75 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority into under-funded Metro capital needs.

The authority, or NVTA, a regional government entity, is responsible for planning, prioritizing and funding regional transportation programs, including some Loudoun County roadways. House Bill 1539, introduced Jan. 19 by Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-40th), would divert NVTA money to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or Metro.

Loudoun is already on the line for $154 million of the commonwealth’s share of Metro’s capital costs as the Silver Line is built out past Washington Dulles International Airport. It also provides about 18 percent of NVTA funding, meaning any money taken from its coffers has a larger impact on the county.

The bill specifically diverts 30 percent of NVTA funds to Metro, leaving Loudoun short a projected $14.1 million in local tax funding. This is compared to an $11.6 million gap if the county were to directly pay its 30 percent share to Metro. In addition, diverting the money will affect NVTA’s credit rating, its ability to bond and to be collateralized, according to Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), who is also vice chair of the authority.

The proposed legislation also states that money allocated to NVTA for distribution to Metro would be credited to Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. Once construction begins on Metro’s Silver Line, Loudoun County would also be credited. However, the bill also says if operating assistance to MWATA increases by more than 2 percent in a year, the Commonwealth Transportation Board should withhold 50 percent of that allocation for Metro’s capital needs.

Regional lawmakers have already predicted should the bill become law, the state can expect court challenges from northern Virginia municipalities since it takes the commonwealth’s money and gives it to Maryland or D.C. for Metro capital costs.

Supervisors say the bill, which was referred Feb. 14 to a Senate finance committee, is essentially “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“Honestly, we’re better off with nothing than we are with HB1539, and that’s unfortunate,” said Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles) during a Feb. 22 business meeting.

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said he believed the bill is a result of partisan politics taking over the state General Assembly because of “an absolutist position that there could never be any new taxes or any new taxes raised.”

“It’s really frustrating to me because it means projects in Loudoun might be delayed, projects in Fairfax might be delayed, all of northern Virginia. And at the end of the day, we still aren’t even getting to the money to make Metro sustainable and the engine for the economy we need it to be,” Meyer said.

Loudoun and northern Virginia contribute a significant amount of money to the state’s tax coffers, but rarely get anything in return as funding for transportation and education is spread to the rest of the districts, supervisors said.

“If Metro is important to northern Virginia and northern Virginia is important to all of the commonwealth, then Metro is important to all of the commonwealth,” Randall said. “For the state to have such a low amount of money anyway was not acceptable, but this bill after everything else really is a slap in the face …”

Four years ago, state lawmakers agreed to allow Loudoun to zone in special tax districts to fund transportation projects to make up the difference, including a Metro tax district.

“Now the kings in Richmond have decided, ‘We’re going to take the colonies’ money and we’re going to hand it to MWATA for Metro and you colonists in northern Virginia, don’t worry about those roads you need. We’re taking your money’ … So the kings in Richmond haven’t put one penny into this. The state has some kind of responsibility here,” said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn).

Buona said he believed it would be beneficial for Loudoun to raise money for Metro on its own rather than committing 30 percent for the expansion to NVTA.

“Somewhere, we’re going to need to secede from the union because northern Virginia is not only carrying the rest of the state, but they’re mandating how we do it,” he said. “And, if they do nothing we will be millions of dollars ahead by handling it ourselves rather than them telling to take most of our road money and give it away to something that services Maryland and into D.C. also.”


“We should, right now, be pursuing legal remedies to scrap the agreement”

Yes, we should be.  The question is why isn’t the BoS doing this?  The answer is that they couldn’t care less if we get stuck with more.

The BoS is VERY lucky that the $$$ from data centers is allowing them do avoid accounting for many failings (Metro vote being one of them).  If the data center gravy train runs out, watch out!  Tax hikes galore.

Laugh, any one of the 5 Supervisors who voted for Metro were a deciding vote.  This includes Letourneau, Reid and Buona.  All are culpable and should not be able to dump blame for Loudoun paying exorbitant Metro bills on the legislators in Richmond.

We’re officially on the hook to pay for all of the mismanagement that happened BEFORE we ever joined this mess.  Again, we make the point that we were defrauded into this agreement—Metro hid from the Loudoun BoS how bad the infrastructure was and how much it would cost to fix it before they took the vote.  We should, right now, be pursuing legal remedies to scrap the agreement—it should be replaced with a new deal that minimizes Loudoun’s tab for a mess we didn’t in any way create. 

Mexit…if not the Silver Line itself, at least the deal.

It must never be forgotten, that the whole Metro/Loudoun County mess is because of one past supervisor - Ken Reid.  Ken Reid claimed he would never support metro coming to Loudoun County, and then when if came to the vote, he was the deciding yes vote.  If Ken Reid had kept his promise, we would not be in this mess.  Yet, since then, we see Ken Reid continuing to run for elections, and being a gadfly in Loudoun County.  Ken Reid should never again hold public office, nor should anyone pay any attention to anything he has to say.

Oh gee, I wonder if the tax breaks given to data centers in and around the last stop on the coming metro line mean everyone else has to pay their share?  Some special-taxing-district that turned out to be.  What brilliant planning.

Gee, it isn’t like the BoS was warned about this at the time of the vote.  Ralph is probably maddest because all the bad things we told him would happen—and he denied—have come to pass.  This is just one more example of WE TOLD YOU SO.

There is a transportation service district (like a special tax district) around metro.  HOWEVER it’s flaw is that it is capped.  After we hit the cap, then we have to cough up more money by 1)expanding the district (best idea) or 2) taking it out of general funds.  My suggestion is to expand the district to encompass the 5 districts who had a supervisor who voted for this boondoggle.

The best possible outcome is that the federal government sells Dulles Airport.  That will start an unraveling of the whole MWAA/WMATA/Metro debacle which will be tough but, in the long run, will create a stronger system.

Yeah, it is illegal what they propose and it will get litigated forever.  BUT, what we see here is the DEVELOPER INFLUENCE IN RICHMOND.  It ain’t just in Loudoun.  Richmond is owned by developers and they will do whatever it takes to ensure they make big dollars off the taxpayers by making sure Metro gets enough money to keep chugging along so they can build and sell.

This is one more instance of PRIVATE PROFIT AND PUBLIC DEBTS. 

New York City, we just need to charge tolls until these bridges are paid for, decades later, still charging tolls. Once they get you paying, impossible to stop.

All of the moron BOS who voted to bring Metro here should be strung up and then run out of town on a rail! It was a stupid, myopic vote based on people who have no clue how to govern much less lead. Shame on them…and make them pay for any shortfall…they were stupid to bring this funding sucking entity to the county…now we have to pay for it…sounds like The Big Orange Cheeto’s plan to have us pay for the Wall after he promised…promised Mexico would pay…same sham deal!!

So let me get this straight.  Ralph Buona votes to bring Metro to Loudoun against massive backlash from his constituents who said (1) it cost too much, (2) Metro was mismanaged, and (3) Loudoun would get minimal benefit.  There was no promise of state money. 

Yet now, uber-big-spending (RINO) Buona is blaming the “kings of Richmond”???  Are you serious?  Buona votes again and AGAIN to give LCPS funding increases at 2x, 3x or 4x enrollment growth to line the pockets of the employees.  The General Assembly is the only one saying no new taxes.  If the special tax districts of Loudoun can’t make up the difference, Buona expects others in Virginia to subsidize this?  Are you kidding me?

I guess Buona wants big-spending liberals like himself down in Richmond who will raise taxes and dole out subsidies to Northern Virginia, Western Virginia, Southeast Virginia and of course Richmond.  Loudoun citizens lose in that scenario of course.

I would rather have Nancy Pelosi representing me that Ralph Buona.  I have never seen anyone who wants to spend more money than Ralph.

How about those special tax districts they were put in place so no general funds get spent on Metro.

No problem paying for metro services when supplied on Virginia land! Transfer Dulles Airport back from federal control to Virginia (Loudoun County) and we would be both able to and glad to pay for services as MWAA should be glad to finally pay property tax on their 8000 or so parking spaces, and the rental car companies and the FEDEX warehouses etc, etc
Bob Ohneiser Esq.

Let’s build another Commission or Authority to oversee the transportation authority.  We must spend ALL of the money, not just parts of it, not amounts we don’t actually have, BUT ALL OF IT !

Northern VA should have seceded from VA years ago. They take all our tax money and give us very little in return. I hope those in northern VA do whatever they can to harm Hugo’s district. Maybe we need to build toll roads around his district. Just more corruption in VA politics.

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