Editor: The Oct. 26 editorial, “The Transportation Disconnect,” is very inaccurate; I will supplement with the following relevant facts:
First, the author attributes transportation funding shortfalls to “the General Assembly failure to meet its obligation.” Fact, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors controls the decisions impacting the pace and volume of development in Loudoun, the imposition of proffers, and it also controlled the decision to extend Metro into Loudoun. Decisions by supervisors, not the General Assembly, have led to strained finances which will impact other non-transportation spending in Loudoun for decades to come. So heavy is the commitment by Loudoun to hurry up and build new Metro-area roads, that other projects, such as US 15, Rt. 7 and Rt. 9, are being delayed. Loudoun’s FY2018 Capital Improvement Program road projects shows about one-third of the transportation funding is going to the same area.
I and Sen. Black are strong proponents of managing transportation funds responsibly to build the roads we need. However, they both come from the position that government should seek to accomplish this without digging deeper into tax payers’ pockets.
The author states, I and Sen. Black “…dismantled the proffer system…” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The revision to proffer law supported by LaRock and Black did not reduce the ability of a jurisdiction to access proffers for roads, schools, public safety facilities and equipment and other demands associated with residential rezonings. Looking at Loudoun’s reaction to proffer reform, a few things are clear. Despite all the assertions that proffer reform affected Loudoun’s ability to recoup costs associated with rezonings, the reform changed nothing. See Virginia law, § 15.2-2303.4. paragraph E. Loudoun was granted a carve out for the Suburban Policy Area (approximately everything east of Goose Creek), so that means all of the suburban policy area of Loudoun County is exempt from revisions to the new proffer law.
Some supervisors want unbridled ability to rake in boatloads of proffer money to help fund things like off-site libraries, parks, recreation centers, and other non-essentials. While these look enticing, it is a mistake to be distracted from the long-term effect. More rezoning means more homes; the well-established effect of new homes is more schools and more traffic and the costs which are connected to those. While some incorrectly assert that proffers cover the new costs, that has been proven wrong over and over. Just look at the ballot on Election Day every year. If proffers cover the cost of new schools, why are voters asked to float hundreds of millions in new bonds every year? Proffers do not cover the cost of roads. If they did, Loudoun would not be starved for road money. It is abundantly obvious; developers usually are let off the hook and taxpayers are the default backstop.
Regardless of how excited our decision makers are about the prospect of new development in the east, building new roads when existing roads like Rt. 15 are unsafe and often impassable is irresponsible.
Del. Dave LaRock (R-33), Hamilton