69°Partly Cloudy

Op-Ed: RNAG’s Tax Proposal Calls for Residents to Pay for Developers’ ‘Grid of Streets’

by RestonNow.com — October 31, 2016 at 12:30 pm 9 Comments

This is an op-ed submitted by Terry Maynard, co-chair of the Reston 2020 committee. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.

The Transportation Service District (TSD) proposed for Reston’s station areas calls for homeowners there to subsidize developers as they build private roads on their property. With a projected balance in residential and non-residential development in the station areas, that means residents there would be paying between $55-$88 million in 2016 TSD tax dollars to developers to build roads on their properties over the next forty years depending on the initial TSD tax rate and if it remains constant (which it won’t).

county-private-share-of-funding-planIn an incomprehensible move, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has identified a phony $350 million “funding gap” for Reston road improvements requiring the creation of a TSD. As laid out in its September 30, 2016, presentation to station area developers, the so-called RNAG “stakeholders,” $305 million of the funding shortfall is to pay for the construction of their “grid of streets.” That’s 87% of the total TSD funds and some 30 percent of the grid’s $1 billion total cost.

This “grid of streets” is the network of privately built roads on developer-owned property. They may be turned over to the state upon completion, but that is not at all clear. Station area residents–present and future–just get to pay developers to build them if this TSD proposal is approved. In contrast, the Tysons “grid of streets” is being paid for in its entirety by developers through financial contributions ($304 million) or in-kind contributions ($561 million); not a penny of Tysons TSD tax revenues.

This subsidy to the for-profit endeavors of developers of scores of millions of residential tax dollars suggests that the developers’ effort really won’t be that successful. However, our analysis of scope of profits for developers across the station areas over the next forty years, based on Boston Properties 2015 annual report, indicates they will have a net operating income averaging in excess of $1.1 billion per year in 2015 dollars. That’s $45 billion in profits over the next four decades. And yet the proposed tax suggests developers’ need residents’ financial help for some reason to build their roads themselves. We don’t think so.

The economic question above only accentuates the unfairness, even immorality, of forcing residents to to pay taxes to support commercial for-profit development. We don’t think the idea comes remotely close to passing a decency test, especially in light of developers’ anticipated profits. We recognize we are dealing with politics here, but it still leaves a strong stench.

As we have said here and elsewhere, there is no need for a new Reston road tax of any kind. This is especially so when a large chunk of it is intended to go into the pockets of developers. Moreover, the so-called “funding gap” is a mirage, even a fraud, created by the County to justify creating a new tax gimmick to afflict Restonians.

You can help stop this dangerous Reston road tax idea. First, Reston 20/20 has posted a petition on Change.org calling for a stop to passing this new tax that you can sign. Second, attend and participate in the RNAG community meeting on Nov.  7 at 7 p.m. in the South Lakes High School lecture hall. Third, let Supervisor Cathy Hudgins know about your concerns over the Reston TSD proposal.

Finally, attend and testify at the Board of Supervisor’s hearing on the matter, which has yet to be scheduled.

If we all work together, we have a chance to stop this unfair, unneeded County tax boondoggle.

Terry Maynard, Co-Chair

Reston 20/20 Committee

Save

Save

  • Mike M

    Fourth, stop re-electing Bulova and Hudgins. Mix up the Board a little. Let the pols know that if something like this happens on their watch, they get fired after their two years.

    • One Really

      Agreed. Number 3 is like yelling for help in the middle of the Pacific.

      “Third, let Supervisor Cathy Hudgins know about your concerns over the Reston TSD proposal.”
      SHE NEEDS TO GO!!!!!
      Not against development here. I will sell my house to any developer willing to pay.
      We need someone to hold these companies responible for developing the entire infrastructure, not just the part that will make them money.

    • JBW

      Amen.

  • Reston Realist

    Thanks for keeping on top of this Terry. This nonsense where we subsidize a developer’s project and provide a cushion in the event of the project’s failure smacks of crony capitalism. If a developer wants to take the risk then they should make the profit AND bear the losses. If the public tax dollars are taking the development risk, then they should share in the profits… yea, like that will ever happen. We need to stop letting Reston be the catalyst for these out of town developers to line their pockets at our expense.

  • John Lovaas

    Terry, thanks for your truth telling analysis and for sounding the alarm.
    Two questions: 1-Is this TSD tax to be chsrged only to residents in the TSA, that is those directly served by the grid of streets? Or, would it applied to a broader area of Reston?

    2- Do we know who proposed this brilliant concept for just Reston TSAs? How did the proponent and the Supervisors justify applying this tax here but not in Tysons and other similarly developing areas of the County?

    Interesting that Cathy Hudgins, who in fact historically has taken less in campaign cash from developers than any of her BOS colleagues, would actually support such a profitable deal for developers and such a burden for her actual constituents. What would be her motivation?
    Or is this the brain child of her Planning Commissioner?
    Doesn’t seem to make sense!

    • VATaxpayer

      Her motivation is a cushy developer job at 5x her salary after she is out of office as payback for the pro-developer votes she cast while ruining the community she was supposed to protect

      • Reston Realist

        Exactly.

      • John Lovaas

        Really?! Do you know her at all?

    • Terry Maynard

      John–Here are my answers:

      1. The TSD applies only to the station areas, basically the “old” RCIG corridor between Sunset Hills & Sunrise Valley plus Reston Town Center & Town Center North (to Baron Cameron). It also applies to all property owners, commercial (inc. apartments) and privately owned homes (townhouses, condos, etc.).

      2. I don’t know who proposed the specific TSD idea, but it–like much else in this TSD proposal–is modeled on a somewhat similar TSD that the BOS approved for Tysons. The key difference: The Tysons TSD does NOT call for homeowners to pay for developers’ “grid of streets”–and that is a huge difference. The Tysons TSD focuses on area-wide street improvements plus transit–and, of course, there is NO planned improvement to bus transit in Reston, which is just plain negligent given the planned 8-fold increase in Reston TSA’s population. The bottom line is that expanded Reston TSA bus transit service will mean a substantial increase in the Reston TSD tax rate sometime in the future (and probably not too far out).

      Hope that answers your questions.

      Also, let me encourage all readers to sign our petition on Change.org calling for rejection of the TSD: https://www.change.org/p/fairfax-county-board-of-supervisors-stop-the-tsd-road-tax-on-reston-metro-station-area-residents

×

Subscribe to our mailing list