In a “what if” scenario, the Town of Herndon would gain influence within the state of Northern Virginia, or “Upper Dominion,” as dubbed by Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-86th), although the former longtime Herndon mayor admits to being against the concept.
“Herndon’s influence would be elevated. Herndon, Leesburg, Fairfax City and Falls Church would gain influence,” said Rust, comparing the over 21,000 Town of Herndon population to the seven million people in the Commonwealth of Virginia versus the almost 1.9 million that would inhabit the new Northern Virginia state.
“Towns would have much more power to operate,” said Herndon’s current mayor, Carol Bruce. “Towns and cities would have their own delegates and senators,” she said, noting that although there would potentially be fewer state legislators, there would be smaller geographic districts.
“Herndon as a town would take on a larger position and role,” said town councilman William “Bill” Tirrell. “All of the sudden it would be a big frog in a little pond,” and although it would not be directly represented, Herndon would “become a player in the General Assembly.
Town councilman Richard “Rick” Thoesen said Herndon would fare better from a financial standpoint in the new state of Northern Virginia. “Herndon gets most of its financial support from Fairfax County. It would get a higher ratio of return with education and transportation funding.
THE EFFECT THE NEW STATE might have on the Town of Herndon would be “to provide a fresh start of local and state government,” said town councilman Harlon Reece. Herndon would leave behind “significant tradition of the oldest legislative body with founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. A potential positive would allow for some restructuring — do away with the Dillon Rule,” said Reece.
Bruce, De Noyer and Tirrell joined Reece in calling for the abolition of the Dillon Rule.
Reece also said a fresh start would include a modernization of the tax structure. “We’ve gone away from a agriculture-based economy and to a technology-based economy. This would help the Town with its revenue sources,” he said, noting that Herndon is currently dependent “heavily on real estate taxes.”
Herndon would be affected with regard to income tax, said town councilman Dennis Husch. “Fairfax County gets 19 cents back on the dollar. Herndon gets none of that,” he said. “The town would no longer receive its V-DOT funding or its 588 funding supporting its police force. Those who lend money would be more apt to do so at better rates — with a strong economic base,” said Husch.
“Oak Hill might want to secede from the area commonly referred to as Herndon — outside the Town limits,” and incorporate, said Tirrell. He said he believed there would be increased incorporation in places like Reston, Chantilly and Centreville.
“MORE INCORPORATED communities would reduce the amount the counties would have to do. Reston should have incorporated years ago,” De Noyer said.
Yet, Thoesen still supports the need for county government. “The boards of supervisors would still be absolutely necessary. They need to take care of education, land use, recreation and transportation. There would be no change in incorporation,” he predicted.
Husch disagreed. “This is an opportunity to cut down the size of government. County boundaries no longer make sense in the new state,” he said, calling for the elimination of boards of supervisors.
Husch also proposed a dual floating tax rate — one for the state government and one for the state school board, which he proposes would be elected by district just like the state senate. “That board would have independent taxing availability on real estate taxes. They can raise it or lower it as needed. It would be a 50-50 split on day one. After that, they are independent and controlled by the separate bodies and responsible to their constituents. I like responsibility. You need to be accountable,” said Husch.