In a surprise move last night, the Board of Supervisors decided to leave the boundaries of the tax districts that will pay for the construction--and, later, the operation—-of the Silver Line extension of Metrorail to Loudoun as they were adopted last week. That means none of the properties in Ashburn that were proposed to be added to the district around the Rt. 772 station will be subjected to an additional tax come 2013.
At the start of the public hearing Tuesday night Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) told his fellow board members, following up on an email he had sent earlier in the day, that it was his understanding it would not be necessary to add more land to the tax district to cover Loudoun’s share of the Metro extension cost. York said he had had discussions with the county’s Chief Financial Officer Ben Mays on the issue.
“Given the board’s recent adoption of the original proposed tax district, he felt that we are OK with the original tax district,” York told supervisors, saying he would withdraw the proposal and cancel the public hearing.
That announced cleared the boardroom of around a dozen people. Many property and small business owners who opposed what they have called a “last-minute inclusion” into the districts, without advanced engagement.
When the board voted in July to continue as a funding partner in effort to extend the Silver Line from Reston to Ashburn, the county government took on responsibility to pay for 4.8 percent of the project, which is estimated to be around $270 million. Properties in the new rail tax district would be charged a real estate surtax of up to 20 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax would decrease as the project is paid off, ultimately leaving only those properties immediately adjacent to the stations to pay for the operating and maintenance expenses.
District boundaries were drawn to include Loudoun properties approximately one mile around the Rt. 606, Rt. 772, Rt. 28 and Dulles Airport Metro stations, with some variations to include the commercial properties likely to see the most benefit from the arrival of rail. Almost all existing residences were excluded from the districts, with the exception of new townhouses being built off Loudoun County Parkway near the Rt. 772 station. Residential areas planned for the mixed-use developments approved or proposed immediately adjacent to the stations will be included in their respective districts as well.
In November, the board voted to remove parcels located between Rt. 28 on the west, Sterling Boulevard and the W&OD Trail on the north, Fairfax County on the east, and Old Ox Road on the south. The parcels include some small businesses whose owners complained about the impact the new taxes would have on them.
At that time, the board initiated a plan to add parcels to the tax districts, including the Farmwell property that the county recently sold to data center owner RagingWire, and businesses along Red Rum Drive in Ashburn. The properties are located within one mile of a Metro station, between Ashburn Village Boulevard on the west, Farmwell Road on the north, and Waxpool Road on the east and south.
But with the cancellation of the the hearing Tuesday night, the districts will stand as adopted Dec. 5.