County supervisors are expected to vote on a resolution formally opposing a 1-cent sales tax increase, which has been proposed as one option to shore up the region’s struggling Metrorail system.
A report by a technical panel of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recommended the regional sales tax—imposed on all counties and cities served by Metro—to create a new revenue stream needed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to finance $15.6 billion in capital and maintenance needs over the next 10 years. The tax hike would be expected to generate $650 million annually.
The proposal has generated little enthusiasm, especially in Virginia where consumers would be picking up about half of the tab.
Early critic Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who serves as MWCOG’s vice chairman, dismissed the proposal as dead on arrival. In his constituent newsletter in May, he wrote, “Quite frankly, the chances of the General Assembly approving such a tax, and then each locality adopting it, are virtually zero.”
The Council of Governments report estimates that under a sale tax funding model, Northern Virginia alone would pick up about half the cost of Metro, with Maryland the District of Columbia splitting the rest. Loudoun would generate 10 percent of Metro tax revenue, despite having only three stops, currently under construction. The District of Columbia would contribute only 22.8 percent—less than Fairfax County at 27.6 percent.
Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) introduced a resolution that would make plain Loudoun’s position.
The resolution cites the significant taxes Loudouners already pay for transportation—including a 2.1 percent Northern Virginia gas tax, a 1-cent higher sales tax rate to fund Northern Transportation Authority projects, and high tolls along the Dulles Greenway. Loudoun residents already face some of the highest property values and tax rates in the region and the state.
The resolution appeared on the board’s June 22 agenda, but Higgins asked to delay the vote in view of the board’s long meeting that night. The board is expected to vote on the issue July 20.
This article was updated July 5 at 6:54 p.m. to correct an error about the date of the expected vote.