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Metro GM briefs Loudoun supervisors on system’s progress, finances

After wrapping up a year’s worth of work aimed at getting Metro back to a safe and reliable state, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld came to Loudoun Sept. 20 to update the county on its progress and remind supervisors of their future contributions.

Over the last several months, Wiedefeld has been making his rounds across the region urging elected officials to adopt a plan that calls for a $15.5 billion ,10-year investment to fund Metro’s “most urgent” needs around safety and reliability.

As part of Wiedefeld’s plan, local governments would need to come up with a dedicated revenue source of roughly $500 million per year that the transit system could in turn sell debt upon.

“Since we’ve got the system moving in the right direction, it is important to look to the future,” Wiedefeld said. “The region has a $40 billion investment. That’s what the system cost to build and to basically have what we have there today. It plays a huge role in the economy of the region. It deals with traffic congestion, it improves the overall air quality and a number of other things. So we have to make sure that we protect that investment.”

Wiedefeld stressed that any funds generated by the dedicated revenue stream would go straight toward capital costs and not be eligible for the transit system’s operating budget.

Wiedefeld also told supervisors that it was his intention to cap the amount of funds they ask from local jurisdictions at 3 percent per year.

“I’m suggesting that [cap] at 3 percent per year ... to give some certainty to local jurisdiction, which I think they need, but also to basically keep up with inflation and things of that sort,” he said.

He also suggested capping the operational cost growth at 3 percent. He noted costs would go up over time, but in the past jurisdictions' numbers have been “bouncing all around.” Wiedefeld said by capping operation costs at 3 percent, it would force Metro to manage the number.

Wiedefeld also talked about the creation of a $1.8 billion “rainy day fund” for the transit system’s annual operating budget.

Without the rainy day fund, he warned that Metro would need to come back to jurisdictions to ask for more money.

Wiedefeld's visit to Loudoun comes as the region is weighing the idea of a one-cent regional sales tax – a plan Loudoun formally opposed earlier this summer.

In the meantime, Loudoun has come up with a plan of its own that would establish a service contract, or an entity comprised of the member jurisdictions, that could issue debt by leveraging the money they already pay toward the transit system.

They say the funding approach would allow Metro to issue its own debt, and the entity would be given a credit rating that would correspond to the rank of its member jurisdictions. Loudoun leaders say the entity’s rating would likely be AA+.

Metro is slated to open in Loudoun County in 2020. In May, county officials said about 50 percent of the construction for the second phase of the Dulles Metrorail had been completed.


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


@cowbell…wrong again.

The $500 million for local jurisdictions is not only LoCo, it’s all of VA. 1.5 billion from VA, MD, and DC=$500 million from each jurisdiction.


The Silver line is a example of Buona’s boondoggle on steroids. Look out folks he wants another with a Potomac River bridge crossing. Maryland just spent their infrastructure money and Trump just threw out public private partnerships as a way to build bridges and roads. Buona and Wood want cheaper help and are willing to saddle the residents of eastern Loudoun with more congestion to expand their pool of workers so they can drive wages down. Maryland has no money nor do the feds for this project yet the cheap labor politicians in Loudoun keep wasting money on studies, enough!


Do I need to say it…Mexit.

Seriously, DD’s point in correct, this is classic “Big Dig” (Boston) mentality that says keep pouring money into it or you’ll lose your original investment…so, it becomes a perpetual money sink.

Why is Loudoun bound to honor a contract that we were defrauded into in the first place?  No one, during the entirety of the Loudoun/Metro debate, told us about the massive maintenance bill we’d be hit with.  You think they didn’t know?  Why are Loudoun taxpayers responsible for decades of mismanagement that took place before we were a part of the system?  If we had known, isn’t it likely that at least one vote on the BoS would have switched? 

It’s half-way built—not our fault.  The BoS should pursue a legal remedy that relieves us of our “obligation” to a project we were conned into.  At the least, we should have the option of renegotiating the deal. 

Stop it at Dulles—we don’t need access on Metro to the airport—the rest of the region does and they, not us should pay for it.  As for the rest of it—Metro will faciliate the flight of spending money out of Loudoun, not bring any in.  Enough—we don’t need folks coming out here to remind us of our obligatons—we need to redo the deal.

Mexit.


$500 million per year for 2 stops….Are you kidding me. We in Loudoun seem to be taxed the most in this area. I consider Greenway & Dulles Toll Rd to be taxes


Ken Reid holds a place in history, that shows as much about his character, honesty, and ability, as anything he would claim he stands for.  His actions, which speak louder than words, has earned him that place in history.  The place:  The one person most responsible for putting we, the tax payers of Loudoun County, on the hook for debt in the billions of dollars over time, for a Metro system that is not only broken, but most likely unrepairable.  Ken Reid’s swing vote on Metro, and which he claimed he did not support before he voted yes, demonstrates, as clearly as possible, that he should not be allowed to hold any public office.


“So we have to make sure that we protect that investment.”

If you had an investment that lost as much money each year, year-over-year, as Metro, what would you do with that investment?

I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t do.  I wouldn’t keep pouring money into a loser.


Ken Reid’s gift to Loudoun.  It keeps on taking!!!


Just a thought - if Loudoun is so critical to the metro funding especially given that access to the Dulles metro stop and the Ashburn metro stop is via Loudoun why can’t Loudoun sell metro passes to its citizens for a discount and keep the sales tax to defray some of these costs? Why can’t the federal government release the Dulles Airport parking lot land back to Loudoun so it can also collect property tax from the excessively profitable MWAA parking monopoly to also offset these costs? I hope at least one of our representatives has the nerve to suggest some ways to offset these absurdly high costs which if efficiently run should not even be occurring in my opinion.
Bob O__ Esq.

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