0
Votes

Meeting Details $300 Million Annual Transportation Deficit

Mount Vernon residents asked how to fill gap.

County Transportation Planners Ken Kanownik and Ray Johnson present the revenue survey and answer questions.

County Transportation Planners Ken Kanownik and Ray Johnson present the revenue survey and answer questions.

— Approximately 25 people learned about an annual $300 million transportation deficit during a briefing session at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Hosted by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, community residents were invited to complete a survey of possible revenue sources that could be supported either through direct county authorization or that the county would need to seek General Assembly authorization.

Because of the deadline dictated by the Board of Supervisors for its General Assembly legislative agenda, the deadline for completing the community outreach survey was Oct. 15.

photo

Chart details transportation revenue options for the county.

Among the attendees who spoke out about their concerns was Katherine Ward, a member of the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations, said: “Missing in the options offered by the county was a development impact fee on by-right development. This option could be available the same way proffers are used for rezoning projects. By-right development often brings more traffic congestion, with no responsibility to make roadway, sidewalk, or bike path improvements. … I am also concerned about including the options to raise income taxes or sales tax on services. Both of these options would have a negative impact on the local economy and not necessarily improve transportation.”

Catherine Voorhees, chair of the MVCCA Transportation Committee, speaking as an individual, objected to the county’s survey form that included options to raise money from individuals for increases in transportation revenue for new development but not an option to collect money through impact fees. She pointed out that the General Assembly authorized impact fees on new development since 1989. “Mount Vernon residents have lost because Fairfax County only collects money from developers if there is a rezoning,” Voorhees said. “The Walmart at Kings Crossing has been a traffic disaster since the day the store opened. Fairfax County approved new store pads in the same parking lot as the Walmart without requiring dual dedicated left turn lanes so that traffic can move efficiently on U.S. Route 1. … VDOT could have required the necessary improvements under an impact fee authorization previously approved in 1989. Why does Fairfax County continue to look to residents/individuals to finance public infrastructure instead of businesses through the use of impact fees?”

Transportation funding has all but dried up for Fairfax County: No state transportation money for maintenance or secondary road construction; no federal money for capital projects which have been capped for the next two years, and by Fiscal Year 2017, all state transportation funds must be used for highway maintenance, and there will not be enough funding left to match funds required for federal highway construction funds.

photo

Photo by Gerald A. Fill

Mount Vernon-area attendees, including Mount Vernon Council Transportation chair Catherine Voorhees.

The county has a commercial and industrial tax for transportation that is currently $0.11 per $100 of assessed value. There is limited flexibility in this revenue source beyond Fiscal year 2014 because of existing commitments. The county already spends $280 million annually from local sources on transportation (general tax revenues, special tax revenues, proffers, bonds, etc.).

The county Department of Transportation’s handouts listed the following revenue options:

Fairfax County can authorize:

Income tax

Meals Tax

Real Estate Tax

Personal Property Tax

Developer Contributions

Increased Commercial and Industrial Tax Rate.

Board of Supervisors has authority to initiate a Referendum to implement an income tax increase for a five-year window; and authority to issue a referendum for a meals tax.

Revenue options for the county that require General Assembly authorization:

Sales Tax, 0.5%

Gas Tax, $0.01 per gallon

Gas Tax, 1% of sales price

Hotel Tax 2% on room rate

Vehicle rental tax 2%

Grantor’s tax $0.40 per $100 value

Vehicle Registration Fee- 1% of value

Regional Vehicle Registration Fee-$10

Vehicle Repair Sales Tax-5% on labor

Safety Inspection Fee- $10

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

Commercial Parking Tax

Sales Tax on Services

Tolls.

County Transportation staff said that the survey results and comments resulting from nine public meetings will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 23. The board will then decide whether to pursue any of the recommendations, including those that would require General Assembly approval.

Current Funding Snapshot

Fairfax County’s 10 year Transportation Needs and Revenues for FY 2012-FY 2021:

$8.1 billion in needs

$5.1 billion in anticipated revenues from existing sources

$3.0 billion deficit (10-year total)

Needed: $300 million annually over the 10-year period