Fairfax County has already obligated all of the funding from a local transportation tax through fiscal 2016, according to a Feb. 16 staff memo.
In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly granted jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads the authority to levy an additional real estate tax on properties zoned for commercial and industrial use. Originally, the cap was 25 cents per $100 of assessed value; a bill in 2009 reduced the cap to 12.5 cents per $100 of value.
Fairfax County began collecting the tax in fiscal 2008 at the rate of 11 cents per $100 of assessed value and has kept it at that level since then. Initially, the tax was bringing in about $52 million a year, but receipts have begun to decline during the recession. In fiscal 2011, it is expected to generate $43 million.
The Board of Supervisors approved more than $250 million in projects to be built between 2009 and 2012, using the tax revenues and $50 million bonds that will be backed by future tax collections.
The list of projects includes some long-term obligations, such as support for the public-private partnership to build a parking garage and a mixed-used development at the future Wiehle Avenue Metro Station, and annual operating costs for a new bus service.
Those obligations -- combined with debt payments on the bonds the county plans to issue starting next year and the projected declines in revenue from the tax -- mean there is little room for new projects, according to Department of Transportation Director Katharine Ichter's memo.
"It is not recommended that additional projects be considered for funding utilizing C&I revenues at this time," she wrote. Unless tax collections exceed projections, there won't be funding for additional projects until fiscal 2016, Ichter wrote.
"We're going to have a real credibility problem with our business community," said Supervisor Patrick S. Herrity (R-Springfield), adding that business leaders expected the funds to be spent on new road projects, not operating costs for transit or Metro garages.
The list of road projects to receive funding from the commercial and industrial tax includes partial widening of Route 7 and Route 29, widening Stringfellow Road, an intersection upgrade at Route 29 and Gallows Road and projects supporting the Defense Department base realignment in Fairfax County, as well as the redevelopment of Tysons Corner for Metrorail service.
Route 123 lane closing
for up to two years
A lane on Route 123 near the future Tysons East Metrorail Station will be closed for up to two years to allow for construction of the new station. The right lane of southbound Route 123 between Scotts Crossing Road and the Capital Beltway was scheduled to be closed Monday, weather permitting. People going to Capital One's campus or accessing the Beltway will still have access to those turns.
The Tysons East station, one of four rail stations planned in Tysons Corner, will be constructed on the northwest side of the intersection of Route 123 and Capital One Drive, on the McLean side of Tysons Corner.
The closing -- which will give construction staff a safe space to work on the station -- had been scheduled to begin Feb. 8 but was delayed due to the two major snowstorms in early February.
Region gets $58 million
for transit upgrades
The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Northern Virginia $58 million in grants for transit-related improvements. The funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The funds include $19.2 million for projects to boost bus service in the Interstate 95 and 395 corridor: adding bus bays, improving traffic circulation and providing real-time bus schedule information at the Pentagon and Franconia-Springfield Metrorail stations. The project also includes the replacement of 13 buses with newer buses that use clean fuel technology.
The award also includes $1.7 million to install NextBus displays at express bus service stops in the Route 7 corridor and to implement transit signal priority at several intersections.
"This is exactly the type of public investment that will help ease congestion, facilitate commerce and create jobs," said U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Dist. 8) in announcing the funding.
Fairfax eligible for federal aid for Dec. 19 storm
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced last week that President Obama has granted a request for federal disaster assistance for state and local governments in Virginia. The approval covers the first major winter storm to hit the state, Dec. 18 to 20.
Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church are among the 32 jurisdictions eligible for reimbursement of certain expenses related to snow removal, damage to infrastructure, debris removal and emergency services. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's reimbursement process can take months or years to complete, McDonnell's office said in a statement.
Local governments and state agencies are still calculating the total cost of this month's two winter storms, according to McDonnell's office. The state plans to apply for federal disaster assistance for those two storms as well within the next few weeks.