July, 13th, 2007
A panel of northern Virginia officials voted Thursday night to authorize $300 million in local tax and fee increases for transportation improvements.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority approved a package that includes new taxes on home sales, car repairs, hotels, rental cars and higher motor vehicle registration and inspection fees.
The money will be used for road and transit projects that would not otherwise be funded by the state, including a new Fairfax County Parkway interchange, the widening of the Prince William Parkway and a rapid bus line through Arlington County and Alexandria.
"The pain of acting is immediate; the pain of failing to act is in the future," said Chris Zimmerman, chairman of the authority and an Arlington County Board member.
"Today's problems, bad as they are, are nothing compared to the future," Zimmerman said. "Congestion, pollution, degradation of quality of life would be worse if we failed to act now."
The funding process was the result of a compromise between the Republican-led General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who earlier this year signed the state's first transportation funding bill in 21 years.
Rather than raise taxes and fees statewide, the bill allowed local authorities in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to raise money.
The northern Virginia board consists of five appointees and the top elected officials in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.
"I congratulate the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for taking this significant step towards determining and funding their own set of regional transportation priorities," Kaine said in a statement after the vote.
Under the plan, the grantor's tax on the sale of a home will increase by 40 cents per $100; car owners will pay an extra initial registration fee of 1 percent of the vehicle's value; annual auto registrations and safety inspections will each cost an extra $10; and a 5 percent sales tax will be added on the labor cost of auto repairs.
Hotel taxes and car-rental fees will rise by 2 percentage points.
Not all local governments are on board with the plan. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted last week to challenge the authority's legality.