As the Board of Supervisors moves through its discussions on the FY2013 budget, Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) introduced a plan that begins to address the lack of funding for transportation in Fairfax County.
The plan comes on the heels of the Board's retreat in early February, where staff provided a sobering analysis of the County's transportation needs over the next ten years - highlighting a need for $3 billion in funding over and above that which can currently be accounted for by federal, State and County funds. This amounts to $300 million a year, nearly equivalent to ten percent of the County's general fund.
"It has become clear that the State has no plan to fund the transportation challenges we face," said Supervisor Cook, "so it becomes critical for the County to act."
Supervisor Cook's twofold plan, if implemented fully, would generate more than $40 million per year in new transportation dollars. First, the proposal would dedicate, for transportation, funds generated by the Vehicle License Fee. Since its implementation, the Vehicle Fee has generated approximately $27 million a year, but has been placed in the County's General Fund. Under Supervisor Cook's proposal, over a three year period, this fee would be moved out of the General Fund and instead committed solely to transportation. With implementation spread over three years, the impact on the General Fund would be relatively small and quite manageable.
Second, under the proposal the Board would designate one-half of each year's unencumbered carry-over funds to transportation - except in the event of an emergency situation. This idea was one of the proposals set forth by County staff at the recent Board of Supervisors retreat. Based on an average from the last five years, this action would result in approximately $23 million per year in new funding.
Neither of these proposals is funded by new taxes, but by placing first priority on new funds generated by economic growth toward meeting our most daunting public challenge.