At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to officially establish the Reston Transportation Service District, part of the 40-year, $2.27 billion plan to upgrade roadways in Reston’s Transit Station Area.
Supervisors in February approved the project’s funding plan, which includes a proposed 2.1 cent/$100 of assessed value tax assessed to properties in the Transit Station Area. That rate will be discussed and finalized when the county budget is approved in May.
The overall project includes road widening and upgrades to intersections and interchanges, in addition to construction of new Dulles Toll Road crossings, including at Town Center Parkway and Soapstone Drive. Roadway projects would be paid for with public revenue, while work on intersections and the street grid would be covered by private funding.
Under the agreed-upon plan, current homeowners in the TSA will be responsible for up to $44.6 million of the estimated cost. The remainder of the tax funds (totaling $350 million) will be collected from commercial/industrial properties and from residential properties built in the future. The rest of private funds, about $716 million, is expected to be collected through in-kind contributions to the grid by developers.
In addition, the board voted Tuesday to create a 13-member advisory group for the service district. The group will consist of the following members:
- One member from the Dranesville District
- Two members from the Hunter Mill District
- Three members to represent residential owners and homeowner/civic associations
- One member to represent apartment or rental owner associations
- One member to represent residents of Reston Town Center
- Three members to represent commercial or retail ownership interests, including the Reston Town Center Association
- One member from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce to represent lessees of non-residential space
- One member from Reston Association
Among the group’s responsibilities, county Department of Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny said, would be to “work with staff to ensure that estimated funding levels are coordinated with construction of transportation projects, that the timing of the construction is coordinated with development, and that the funding is being spent in an appropriate and efficient manner.”
Supervisors Linda Smyth (Providence District) and Pat Herrity (Springfield District) both abstained from the votes, as they have throughout the process. Herrity once again stated that the cost of the project, which he called “gold-plated,” is too high.
“We’re taxing our residents out of the county and I think we’re going to see some of them fleeing Reston,” Herrity said.
A pair of TSA residents who spoke during a public hearing Tuesday, Robert Perry and Hank Schonzeit, both expressed feelings that taxing a small group of residents for work that benefits the entire community — as well as developers — is unfair.
“If you’re going to have a situation where you’re going to try to flog us the most you can get away with, in the smallest possible area for the fewest taxpayers, I say that’s not fair,” Perry said. “The developers who probably live in a different state who are getting rich from this [are] the ones that should bear the payment, not us.”
Developers will be responsible for 96 percent of the private share of the project, Biesiadny said, and 53 percent (about $1.2 billion) of the project is to be paid out of the county coffers. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said that while developers will be benefiting from the major road improvements, she believes residents will see the benefits of the work as well.
“We’re hoping it will not be considered onerous, but I think anytime we ask the citizens to [be taxed], they may assume it’s going to be an onerous assessment,” Hudgins said. “But I think they’ll see the return.”