Richmond Not Likely to Help Transportation Funding Gap
State senator weighs in as Fairfax County kicks off public meetings about $3 billion shortfall.
Though state-level taxes are among the ways Fairfax County could help close a 10-year, $3 billion shortfall in transportation funding, Va. Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37) said in a community outreach meeting Tuesday he wasn't confident help from Richmond was coming.
“It’s just very, very difficult in this climate in this country right now to raise taxes,” Marsden said.
The remarks came as Fairfax County officials kicked off a series of public outreach meetings Tuesday in Springfield to gather input on how to address the shortfall.
From now until fiscal year 2021, the county has $8.1 billion in needs but anticipates only $5.1 billion in revenues.
That gap leaves a $3 billion deficit over 10 years, or $300 million per year.
Tom Biesiadne, county department of transportation director, said road maintenance costs weren’t included in the calculations – if they had been, the county’s needs would total $360 million a year.
County supervisors and department of transportation officials have compiled 20 possible options to increase revenues that can go towards transportation projects. The list includes measures the county can authorize, including a .5 percent income tax or a 4 percent meals tax, and measures the General Assembly must approve, such as a sales tax on services or gas tax.
Sup. Pat Herrity (Springfield) told the 20 attendees at Springfield Government Center he thought Fairfax County should try to fund transportation through partnerships with developers, a method the county has used in the past.
“The No. 1 way we funded transportation in Fairfax County was from the business community,” he said in his opening statement. “It was through proffers. It was through special tax districts.”
But Marsden said "clearly, we wouldn’t have to be doing all of this if the state was better living up to its responsibilities in terms of funding transportation,” he said.
Marsden told attendees the state’s primary source of transportation funding – a 17 cent per gallon gas tax – just doesn't have heft it used to. He also said smaller rural areas of the state that don’t need as much road maintenance, and therefore, want to pay for education instead, are against helping fund work in Northern Virginia.
“Rural areas do not want to participate in statewide increases in transportation funding,” he said. “It’s very difficult for us to move forward as one commonwealth.”
That divide in Richmond kills many transportation measures in the House of Delegates Finance Committee, he said.
Residents have until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 to take the online survey about how to fund transportation improvements. To take the survey, click here.
Survey results will be presented to the board of supervisors on Oct. 23. They will then decide whether to follow through on any recommendations.