Loudoun Supervisors Hold Little Hope of Metro Funding Fix from State

A majority on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors has given up on the idea that all of the extra funding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will need to fill its funding gap will come from the state government.

Metro jurisdictions are on the hook for hundreds of millions more to help fill funding shortfalls left by years of poor maintenance and uncertain funding.

“Since its creation, it’s been a combination of both state and local funding, and so the board can certainly take a position that 100 percent of the additional funds should come from the Commonwealth,” Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I will say, however, that there is not a single budget amendment or proposal or bill that is alive in the General Assembly or has any possibility of being approved in the General Assembly that has 100 percent of the funding coming from the state.”

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she has “fought and fought and fought” for that idea in Richmond, but agreed with Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) that “if we let the great be the enemy of the good, we will get nothing.”

Northern Virginia leaders have often balked at the state’s unwillingness to commit funding to Northern Virginia projects, pointing out that the region is an economic workhorse for the state and sends far more tax revenue to the state than it gets back.

“The rest of the commonwealth isn’t going to sit here and say, give more money to those rich people in Northern Virginia, so what we’re trying to do is minimize the impact, and this proposal minimizes that impact,” said Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn).

“If WMATA is important to Northern Virginia, and Northern Virginia is important to the commonwealth, then WMATA should be important to the commonwealth,” Randall said.

Because the General Assembly’s legislative work moves faster than county supervisors can meet to discuss specific bills, the board laid out a set of principles to guide lobbyists’ and county staff members’ efforts in Richmond.

Those principles include, among others, that the state should adopt a gas tax floor, commit to more than two years of funding at a time, not divert money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, that additional funding for Metro should be contingent on reform at the agency, and that at least two-thirds of additional capital funding for Metro, or $100 million, should come from the state.

Letourneau said the principles are not an endorsement of a specific policy.

To win support from the Board of Supervisors, proposals to fund the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should meet:

  1. At least 2/3 of additional WMATA Capital funding, or $100 million, should come from the Commonwealth as a whole.
  2. A funding commitment beyond the 2-year budget be considered.
  3. The Gas Tax floor should be adopted and provided through the existing mechanism to NVTC, and then to the northern Virginia localities.
  4. No funding diverted from Item 450 High Priority Projects Program, Construction District Grants Program (Smart Scale) or distributions to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
  5. New or additional statewide funding sources should be considered. Generally speaking, northern Virginia specific funding proposals, with the exception of the 1/3 or $50 million proposal in Senator Barker’s amendment, are opposed.
  6. Similar to the Gas Tax, any new revenue collected from within a jurisdiction and sent to NVTC should be credited to each jurisdiction for WMATA Capital expenses by the amount collected in that jurisdiction.
  7. Additional funding for WMATA should be contingent on reforms to the organization’s governance, operations, and expenses consistent with NVTC Resolution #2342, NVTC Principles for WMATA Reform.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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