Supervisors and county government staff members last week continued to emphasize that—despite dramatically escalating cost projections for Metro—the Loudoun realistically cannot back out of its Metro obligations.
County Administrator Tim Hemstreet outlined to the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee Feb. 14 some of the steps it would take to shelve the project—and what it would cost.
According to Hemstreet, removing Loudoun from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority compact would require General Assembly action to remove the county from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Zone which it created in 1966, followed by agreement from all members of the compact. Even if those actions took place, under the terms of its $195 million federal transportation infrastructure loan, Loudoun would still be responsible for completing construction of Metro tracks, stations, and parking garages—and to repay the loan. Defaulting on that loan would likely impact Loudoun’s triple-A credit rating, driving up the cost of borrowing for the county and having serious impacts on its own capital planning.
“We finish the construction, we pay back the debt, and then the service just doesn’t occur even though we built the stations,” summarized Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge).
Because the county’s authority to levy a gasoline sales tax is based on its inclusion in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Zone, the county also would lose authority for that 2 percent levy and the $5.7 million it is expected to bring in this fiscal year.
Land values around the Silver Line plans, which have risen, contributing to county higher revenues through real estate taxes, would be expected to drop off.
And the county could lose its ability to negotiate proffer agreements with developers. General Assembly action last year to restrict such deals included an exception for properties around Metro stations.