Friday, Jul 20, 2012

Loudoun Supports Silver Line, Funding Questions Remain

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted 5-4 on July 3rd to affirm its support for Phase 2 of the Silver Line (Yes: York, Buona, Letourneau, Reid, and Williams; No: Clarke, Delgaudio, Higgins, and Volpe). Phase 2 of the Silver Line will extend from Wiehle Avenue in Reston to the Route 772 station in Loudoun County and is planned for completion in 2017. The Phase 2 stations include Reston Parkway, Herndon-Monroe, and Route 28 in Fairfax County and Dulles Airport, Route 606, and Route 772 in Loudoun County (the names of these stations will likely be altered in the future). While the Board decided to remain committed to the July 19, 2007 “Agreement to Fund the Capital Cost of Construction of Metrorail in the Dulles Corridor”, it remains to be seen how the Board will fund its approximately $269 million share of the Phase 2 capital expenditure.

Just prior to the Silver Line vote, the Board voted 7-2 (Delgaudio and Higgins opposed) to explore funding the Silver Line capital expense through the establishment of three tax districts located in the vicinity of the Loudoun County rail stations. The three tax districts would consist of a rail service tax district, a station development tax district, and an airport station tax district. The Board has stipulated that the proposed tax districts shall not exceed $0.20/$100 of assessed value on any property. The tax districts item will be brought before the Board at a public hearing no later than November 1, 2012. The tax districts will take effect on January 1, 2013.

The tax districts encompass primarily commercial properties in the immediate vicinity of the rail stations (see map below). The tax districts proposal was crafted by Supervisor Shawn Williams (Broad Run) as an alternative to a previously proposed, but since dismissed, countywide tax of all properties. The impact of this proposed funding mechanism carries with it a potentially significant tax burden on the properties located within the proposed tax districts, especially those properties that are already located within the existing Route 28 tax district. It remains to be seen if the properties proposed to be impacted with the additional tax burden will be part of an area plan process, similar to the Tysons Corner and ongoing Reston area plan processes, which would permit additional density on certain properties to help compensate for the additional tax burden. Additional details related to the proposed tax districts and any potential area plan processes will become available as the review process progresses over the next few months.

Loudoun Metro Graphic