Council Moves Forward on Regional Gas Tax Increase

Council Moves Forward on Regional Gas Tax Increase

City Council approved a controversial increase in the regional gas tax from 2 percent to 4 percent. Action came during its public hearing Saturday. The proposed legislative package is being prepared for the upcoming General Assembly session.

“After the sales tax referendum was defeated, we had to come up with a way to meet our increasing Metro contribution and to cover some of our other mass transit needs,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. “This is a regional tax, and it is almost 100-percent dedicated to funding mass transit projects. If not this, then what?”

Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland opposed the proposal, saying, “I was down in Richmond on Friday and talked to quite a few people in the General Assembly,” he said. “This is going to be DOA [dead on arrival] when it is received. If we want to work with those people down there, we need to get rid of the impression that this is the People’s Republic of Alexandria and that we don’t know what’s going on. I would ask you not to send this down there.”

Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper spoke in support of increasing the gas tax. “I have to disagree with my colleague,” she said, speaking of Cleveland. “If we don’t do this, I just don’t know what we will do.”

Council will consider the entire legislative package at the Nov. 26 legislative meeting.

<ro>SUP for Datatel Building Site

<bt>The city purchased the Datatel building on Mount Vernon Avenue for around $2 million and demolished it. Now, there will be a public parking lot on the site until long-term redevelopment occurs.

“The parking lot will not be metered and will be free,” said Barbara Ross, the deputy director of the city’s planning department. “There will be a specific time people will be allowed to park there, and St. Rita’s [school] will use the lot on Sunday. We are looking at overnight parking but have not developed a plan yet.”

Councilwoman Joyce Woodson asked about other uses. “By approving this today, are we saying that this site could not be used for something else later?” she asked.

Ross said no.

Woodson had proposed the possibility of putting a community center on at least a part of the site. For now, however, there will be only a parking lot.