Fairfax County staff and local landowners remain somewhat at odds about how to pay for necessary road improvements in Tysons Corner.
Under the leadership of a nonprofit membership group called the Tysons Partnership, landowners in Tysons are working to determine a mechanism for financing their share — more than $450 million — of road improvements during the next 20 years as Tysons redevelops into an urban center around the new Silver Line stations. The four stations are slated to open at the end of 2013.
Tysons Partnership members have voted on their preferred method — implementing a voluntary tax district that only would encompass properties that are redeveloping, and charging those properties additional real estate taxes that would go into a fund to pay for roads.
However, county staff say this is problematic for several reasons, the primary one being such a tax district structure likely is illegal under current Virginia law.
The law that allows property owners to voluntarily tax themselves, like what was done to form the two tax districts that are helping the county pay for its share of the Silver Line construction, requires all those who benefit from the road improvement are taxed, according to assistant county attorney James McGettrick.
For example, businesses on one side of the street canít be taxed if those on the other side are not, he said. In addition, any projects completed with the additional tax revenue also must be located within the tax district, according to county debt manager Leonard Wales.
County staff favor a mechanism that would tax all commercial property owners in Tysons, which could either be imposed through a voluntary petition method in which landowners ask to be taxed at a given rate or through a service district, which the Board of Supervisors could impose.
Keith Turner, chairman of the Tysons Partnership, said he thinks it would be difficult to get enough landowners to sign on to a tax district petition. The owners of at least 51 percent of the land, as judged by value, within the boundaries of the tax district must sign off on the districtís creation.
County and Tysons Partnership officials are continuing to meet and discuss the issues involved in order to try to reach a resolution.