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County Faces $3 Billion Transportation Gap

Over next decade, Fairfax County has $8.1 billion in needs, expects $5.1 billion in revenue.

Fairfax County faces an estimated $300 million per year gap in transportation funding for the next 10 years.

From now until fiscal year 2021, the county has $8.1 billion in needs but anticipates only $5.1 billion in revenues, said Tom Biesasiadny, director of the county's Department of Transportation. 

That gap leaves a $3 billion deficit over 10 years, or $300 million per year.

The federal and Virginia governments have no money to give, Biesasiadny said as he outlined the funding woes during this week's meeting of the county transportation committee.

As a result, the county wants community feedback on ways to increase revenues for much-needed projects.

Officials have posted a list of ways to raise the funds on the county website. Ideas on the table include a 1 percent sales tax on services that could bring in an estimated $367 million per year, or a .5 percent income tax for an estimated $229 million per year.

Board Chairman Sharon Bulova stressed during the meeting the county didn't prefer any one option to another. Aside from the 20 options outlined in the program, projects could also be scaled back.

"I don't think we want to make people believe that … the whole purpose of this is to push new taxes," she said. "The whole purpose of this is to show what the transportation situation is."

Without new revenue sources, projects would fall by the wayside.

"We're not doing this because we want to raise taxes," she said. "If there's not a source of funding to pay for it, this stuff will not get done."

Fairfax's major needs lie in the redevelopment of Tysons Corner, traffic-calming measures as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and transit projects for Dulles Rail and South County.

The county is launching an outreach program in which residents have from Sept. 24 to Oct. 12 to provide input on how to fix the funding issue.

The outreach program comes weeks after Bulova and leaders from 38 counties, cities and towns in Fairfax County, Richmond and Hampton Roads sent a letter (attached) to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) urging the state to meet its responsibility of meeting transportation infrastructure funding needs.

According to the letter and Tuesday's presentation, Virginia has ranked first or second on CNBC's Best States for Business for the past few years. But in 2012, the state slipped to third and dropped from No. 10 to No. 33 in quality of transportation and infrastructure.

"We have a real maintenance challenge and that affects not just Fairfax County, but it affects everybody in Virginia," Bulova said of the letter.

And expectations for transportation improvements are still high, Sup. Michael Frey (Sully District) said.

"I get people all the time saying, 'When are you going to pave my road?'" he said during Tuesday's meeting. "And it doesn't matter how many times you say, 'No money.'"

The county's outreach program, deemed a "Countywide Dialogue on Transportation," kicks off Sept. 24.

The first of nine meetings is sechduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Springfield Governmental Center, 6140 Rolling Road, Springfield.

Click here to find a meeting in your neighborhood. 

Residents will have the opportunity to take an online survey here from Sept. 24 to Oct. 12.

Bob Bruhns September 30, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Hmm, a $3 Billion dollar transportation shortfall in Fairfax County. Let's see, this means we already know how to charge $5.1 Billion (over the coming decade) to an average of about 1,130,000 people (that's about $4,500 per man woman and child), but now we find that we need another $3 Billion (that's ANOTHER $2,700 from every man, woman and child). So we actually need a total of $8.1 Billion - that's about $7,200 from every man, woman and child living in Fairfax County. Over ten years, that's an average of $720 from every man, woman and child every year, for transportation alone. Gee, I wonder if anybody thought of that, when they approved the near-double cost of the Silver Line. Taxpayers should have paid attention to the near-double prices of Dulles Rail construction, because those costs are headed home to roost. http://www.bruhns.us/civic/DullesRail/Dulles-Rail---Silver-Line-overcost-report---Bruhns.pdf
Joe Bagadonuts September 30, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Shreff: +1. Those billions of road costs directly subsidize those who have made a personal decision to live in cheaper, outlying areas, so they can have larger houses and more acreage. This is classic liberal overreach. Government is not the answer to every problem - certainly not this one. Massive road expansion projects just further delay the real solution, which is gradual evolution of many factors, including: more companies and gov agencies offering flex time, more telecommuting, more skype meetings, and a natural, evolutionary shift away from "we all live down here, work up there, and commute on lockstep, timeclock schedules". Does that conflict with your life choices (both your wife and you live in Spotsylvania, work at a USG job in DC and have kids in daycare and school, 40 miles from where you work)? Then change your life. Make some personal sacrifices that will ultimately improve your quality of life. Move close to where you work. One parent stays home. Etc.
Catherine September 30, 2012 at 08:01 PM
That was in Arlington County, not Fairfax County.
SuperG September 30, 2012 at 11:39 PM
@Catherine A small portion of the Columbia Pike light rail is in Fairfax County (near Skyline) and has been approved by the BoS, but yes the vast majority is in Arlington. The county is expected to fund roughly $28 million of the cost. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/fairfax-supervisors-endorse-columbia-pike-streetcar/2012/07/31/gJQA72eQNX_story.html
Bob Bruhns October 01, 2012 at 03:03 AM
People need to understand that tax revenues don't simply go up and down with property assessments. Local government determines the tax rate shortly after the assessments are released, and the tax rate adjusts the resulting revenues to match the budget that is also determined by the same local government. The problem for the past decade or so, is that property tax rates stayed high, while assessments went up. This was not some random coincidence, it was a choice by our goverment leaders to increase tax revenues, in order to have more money to spend. Do people want ever increasing real-dollar tax? You tell me. I thought there was supposed to be some economy of scale, but it certainly is not evident.

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