This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2013.
A controversial tax will go into effect on Tysons Corner property owners next January as a mechanism to fund transportation projects.
After delaying their decision for a month due to strong opposition from Tysons-area residents, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 Tuesday to establish the new tax district. Supervisors Linda Smyth (D-Providence) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) opposed the new tax.
“We can’t keep talking about transportation improvements in Tysons Corner; we have to start building them,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee).
The tax district is considered a key component of a funding package that will support about $3 billion in transportation projects in Tysons Corner over the next 40 years. While it won’t generate the largest dollar amount of revenue, the steady income of a tax district allows the county to issue bonds to fund construction.
The board will set the tax rate during the budget process this spring, when it sets other county tax rates.
During public hearings last year, many Tysons-area residents, as well as a few small business owners, said that it was unfair for them to have to help pay for transportation projects that will facilitate massive redevelopment in Tysons. They argued that developers, not residents, will reap the financial benefits of the new roads, trails and sidewalks.
“People are very angry and they are concerned about this way of doing business in Fairfax County,” Smyth said. “I understand how they feel.”
Other supervisors said they don’t think a tax district that includes both commercial and residential property owners is the ideal solution, but the board has no other legal options for obtaining a similar revenue source.
There are also benefits to residential property owners, said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville). At a proposed tax rate of 7 cents per $100 of assessed value, homeowners are looking at about $18 per month, he said.
“We’re talking $18 per month for dramatically increased infrastructure and benefits,” Foust said.
Tysons residents will gain new roads, sidewalks and amenities in their community as the area redevelops, Foust said, and likely will see an increase in their property values as a result.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said she empathizes with the residents and does not believe the tax district is the right solution, even though she voted in favor of it. She would like to see more state investment in transportation, for example, and more flexibility from the state for how to generate local revenue.
“We don’t have the right solution for all of the problems that we face, but that doesn’t mean we stop moving forward,” she said.