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Supervisors Discuss State Road Funding Proposal

At their Sept. 19 business meeting, Supervisors expressed opposition to the proposed General Assembly bill that is an attempt to raise money in Northern Virginia to pay for road improvement in the area.

The proposal, which is being introduced by Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-86), would increase a variety of fees for both county residents, businesses and tourists. The bill suggests increasing vehicle registration fees by $30 per year. In addition, any new people moving to the county and anyone buying a new car would pay an additional 75 cents on their registration fee. The bill would also call for a 5 percent increase in hotel and motel fees and a 2 percent increase in car rental fees.

Rust, Del. David Albo (R-42) and Del. Joe T. May (R-33) have been meeting with local business and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce because one part of the bill would hit the business community the hardest. The bill proposes increasing taxes on property zoned commercial and industrial. The fee would be raised to 30 cents per $100 value.

The bill would generate an estimated $417 million in revenue.

OVERALL THE business community has supported the proposed bill, Memory Porter, assistant to the county administrator, said. She added that some Northern Virginia leaders have expressed concern over the requirement that localities accept all seven taxes before they are eligible to receive money, a feeling the Supervisors echoed.

"If [the state is] going to take action, they should take the action," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. "They shouldn't be coming here and telling us how to do our jobs, especially with things like the DMV, which local government has nothing to do with."

Other Supervisors were wary of allowing for increased fees and taxes with no guarantee that the money would be coming directly back to Loudoun.

"If we tax and we want to do that, it ought to stay in Loudoun," Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said. "It shouldn't be going to Fairfax. I don't want to help Fairfax."

In April, the board voted to support the idea of increasing some local taxes, but only if all of the money came directly back to Loudoun. Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) pointed out that the current proposal would not give all the money back to the county.

"The reality of the matter is that part of that money would be to pay for Metro and VRE," he said. "It is 100 percent after what is being sent for [those services.]"

The board chose not to take an official position on the bill, instead deciding to wait and see what happens in the General Assembly.

"I would prefer to sit back and watch what happens because it is moving quickly and it is moving in many different directions," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said. "I think if we took a position it would be irrelevant."

SUPERVISORS DECIDED to table a proposed salary increase for board members until absent Supervisors Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) and Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) could be present for the discussion.

Vice Chairman Tulloch worked with the county's staff to create a proposal that would increase the chairman's salary from $40,000 per year to $58,800 and the vice chairman's salary from $22,400 to $50,000. Supervisors' salaries would increase from $22,400 to $41,200. The salary changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2008, the beginning of the term for the next board and board members salaries would continue to increase by 3 percent each Jan. 1 starting in 2009.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who made the original motion to approve the proposal, said the increase reflected the changing jobs of board members.

"This summarizes what we have all known for sometime: the nature of the job has increased with the Internet, cell phones," he said.

Other Supervisors, however, were not comfortable with approving the salary increases, prompting Waters to make the motion to table the issue.

"Our salaries are accurate," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said. "I have adequate funds and a base budget to cover the salaries of anyone working for me, which takes the burden off of me."

Snow said he could not make a decision about salaries when the fiscal year 2008 budget discussion had not begun.

"I am not sure I want to increase salaries across the board until such time as I know what we are doing to the citizens," he said. "I cannot support this until I know what we are doing with the tax rate."

THE BOARD ALSO voted 7-0-2 to hire an independent consultant to create a detailed retail study of the Route 7 corridor. Waters requested the study after seeing the retail report that was developed for Route 50.

"There are a lot of projects being proposed on this corridor and a lot of promises being made and a lot of expectations being set high," Waters said. "I think this would help us as we develop our vision for the Route 7 corridor."

Snow, the supervisor for Route 50, suggested including not only local services, but destination services, something he said was missing from the Route 50 report.

"I don't think the study on Route 50 was extensive enough," he said.