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Will Reston See Special Tax to Pay for Transportation Improvements?

by Karen Goff February 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm 25 Comments

Traffic on Reston Parkway/Credit: Reston 2020County officials say Reston is going to need more than $2.6 billion in transportation improvements to keep up with development and population growth in the next 40 years.

How to pay for them? For the first time, the word “Reston Special Tax District” has been mentioned.

County transportation and planning officials have not itemized what the improvements will be, but said in a recent presentation that Reston roadway improvements (overpasses, widening, extensions, and interchanges) will cost $1.28 billion. Intersection projects will cost $65 million and the enhanced grid network will cost $1.28 billion, the report said.

According to the presentation (see below) by the Fairfax County Transportation Department to Fairfax County’s Reston Network Analysis & Funding Plan Advisory Group, money to pay for those infrastructure improvements may come from a wide array of sources. Among them: developer proffers, taxes, bonds, federal transportation grants and state funding, as well as a potential county meals tax.

But the concept of a special tax district for Reston’s roads is a new one.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins says a special tax district is just one of the “tools we are exploring in transportation improvements. We have done it with rail; we are doing it in Tysons.”

Tysons has a special tax district in place since 2013. Businesses and residents of Tysons are taxed in order to help raise about $810 million of the estimated $3.1 billion necessary for longterm changes. The Tysons Special Tax  for FY2016 is $0.05 per $100 of assessed real estate value.

In the county’s presentation, it shows an example of a Reston Service District in which businesses and residents would be taxed $0.01 per $100 of assessed property value.

A special tax district can be put in place by the Board of Supervisors and does not require landowner approval.

An additional tax might not sit well with Reston residents who already pay Fairfax County taxes, Reston Association annual assessments, taxes for Special Tax District 5 (which funds the Reston Community Center), and, in many cases, private cluster dues.

“I always caution people: To live in Reston, you have to pay for a lot of things,” said Hudgins. “What we need to determine is do we want to isolate ourselves or does the public infrastructure need to be paid for by the public?”

The county said it will get advisory group feedback on potential revenue sources, including others that should be evaluated, in the coming months. It will also develop a proposed funding plan to include cost allocations between public and private sector, hold outreach meetings with the public and revise the plan based on feedback received.

The plan would then go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Reston Transportation Funding

  • JohnGaltMasterPlanner

    I wonder if those that are living in Section-8 housing or whose kids are getting ESL on the tax-payer dime are “paying” for these things? Or is the answer as always to just penalize those that worked hard, saved money and purchased a home?

    Guess it’s time to start saving up again, put the home on the market and move further west.

    • whoisjongalt

      I like the name. Most likely those individuals would not be taxed due to their income levels not being high enough. I am just flabbergasted that the county did not already plan for this transportation need when the metro was first planned. Also, if they create a special tax district or they then required to use those funds in that district? Or can the county just spend those funds on whatever they want?

      • Terry Maynard

        Re use of the funds in the tax district, the answer is “yes”–they must use them there. RCC is a perfect example. All the money it collects from the $.047/$100 valuation we homeowners pay (on top of our regular property tax) goes to finance the RCC’s activities. That was about $14.8MM in FY2016.

        • whoisjongalt

          Do you think their estimations are based off of that area as a special tax district or Reston as a whole?

          • Terry Maynard

            The number in the presentation is NOT an estimate of the likely tax rate. It merely shows how much revenue a $.01/$100 valuation would generate–in a special tax district covering ONLY the TSAs.

  • Terry Maynard

    This article and particularly the County’s funding presentation digs further into the ways that the cost of the transportation infrastructure needed in Reston may be shifted to Restonians from developers as outlined in my op-ed here on Monday: https://www.restonnow.com/2016/02/08/op-ed-who-will-pay-for-restons-infrastructure-development/

    • whoisjongalt

      I also think that based on Hudgins comments they will try to make Restonians pay.

      • Terry Maynard

        Exactly!

  • Scott H

    On one hand, I have no problem with the notion that local residents should pay for the infrastructure their area needs. That said, I have one small requirement to accept a special tax district.
    The infrastructure upgrades are required b/c of the additional development, both office space, residences, and retail. Parcels of land that are redeveloped will produce a significant increase in property taxes paid to Fairfax County. ALL incremental property tax from this redevelopment would need to be dedicated to Reston infrastructure to make this an equitable and fair arrangement.

    Color me skeptical that the pols will manage this fairly.

    Every day, I lean more and more toward the idea that Reston should split from the county and incorporate as a town as Herndon and Fairfax City have.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Herndon has a metro plan:

      http://www.herndon-va.gov/Content/Zoning/PlanningandZoning/Metrorail_Planning/default.aspx

      I’m not seeing anything in there about how they’re going to make the developers pay for the desired improvements. Color me skeptical that the Herndon taxpayers won’t be on the hook for it, one way or another.

    • Greg

      It’s one county and the transportation improvements benefit everyone. Nonetheless, all of these extra costs should have been sorted out and vetted with those of us stuck paying for them (including the toll payers) long before the first elevated rails were hoisted in the soon to be many-cornered Tysons.

  • restonresident

    Reston already has a STD 5 which taxes all property in Reston at the tune of 0.0047 per $100 and it raises about $8m which funds the Reston Community Center

    • Ming the Merciless

      So hey it will only take 325 years to raise the needed $2.6bn at $8m per year…

      • Reston Resident

        You missed my point. We already pay for an under utilized RCC the last thing we need is for Reston to pay more taxes.
        With DTR tolls and the RCC tax Reston is the most taxed jurisdiction in Virginia.

        • Greg

          And don’t forget, Leila Gordon, the RCC executive director proudly and often boasts that she’s a “bleeding heart liberal” all too eager to take ever more of our money for not one, but two under-utilized RCC’s.

        • Ming the Merciless

          You missed my point. Taxing Reston at a realistic, reasonable level cannot pay for the desired infrastructure improvements.

  • Sally Forth

    I do have a problem with the statement that local residents should pay for infrastructure in their area. Existing Restonians are valiantly trying to cope with the forced changes that the FFX Co supervisors have forced on them with their wholesale approval of any developments that developers present. For Hudgins to imply that Reston residents ‘know’ this is an expensive community to live in is outrageous! As a community we support 1,000s of low income neighbors with good grace and support them through our generous RA dues and STD #5 EXTRA taxes. And then there are the tolls that we are stuck with due to Hudgin et al careless, myopic support of a dysfunctional Metro spur that she knew would not be sustainable without proper financing. How convenient was the DTR toll mechanism?!!! I could go on & on but you get the drift. WE are mad as hell that our community, so beautifully planned and admired world-wide, is being thrown under the bus. Now you (Hudgins) are talking about possibly taxing us for infrastructure that wouldn’t be necessary without all the foolishly approved development, ahead of proper planning and provision for it??? OUTRAGEOUS>

    • Greg

      Many of our neighbors are planning their exit strategies. As soon as property values start exceeding the last century peaks, many of them, all high-incomers, will leave. They are fed up with endless traffic, ever-increasing taxes and tolls (especially on the Dulles toll road. We were promised that once it was paid for, the tolls would be gone.), libraries that throw away brand new books, educating their kids in bathroom-less trailers and special tax districts for things like rec centers and metro itself.

      There are many better places to live with lower taxes, better transportation and climates and far better and equitable planning and development.

      • Sally Forth

        I sure hope that Hudgins, Bulova and rest of BOS and RCC board is reading this!!! We are not alone in our disgust of what is going on. Reston is finally waking up? We are not a bottomless pit of $$$ or patience. Stop the development until this mess is figured out. I’m moving before I pay for developers’ roads/bridges/schools, etc.

        • Greg

          Here’s the list for early retirees.

          • Learn Spanglish

            Puerto Rico is not on the list! I would rather retire in a bankrupt corrupt state with cheap food and affordable housing than live in a rich corrupt state with dwindling, yet expensive food and housing that is out of reach.

  • Terry Maynard

    Just as we all thought that there were several alternatives to having residents pay for Reston’s new development, our amazing state legislature–both houses–has approved a measure to limit the availability of proffers as a means of negotiating a reasonable, if not full, developer share of the infrastructure costs created by development. Once the differences are reconciled between the two houses, the bill will go to Gov. McAulliffe who may sign it, propose amendments to it, or reject it. We’ll see.

    Here’s a link to the most recent reporting on this development: http://wamu.org/news/16/02/10/a_form_of_extortion_or_just_smart_planning_virginia_considers_limiting_proffers

  • Andy Sigle

    A quick correction; the article states: “the presentation (see below) by Fairfax County’s Reston Network Analysis & Funding Plan Advisory Group….” The presentation was actually TO the Advisory Group by the Fairfax County Transportation Department. Note: The next meeting of the Advisory Group is on February 22 at 7pm in the North County Government Building and the County has promised an update to the funding overview in the presentation — All interested parties are welcome.

    • Karen Goff

      Thanks, Andy. Will fix.

  • mfs

    what are these unspecified “widenings”? seems to go against the transit-oriented message here.

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