Alexandria approves new source for Metro funds

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Ben Giles
The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved establishing the city's first special tax district, creating a critical new funding source for the planning and construction of a $270 million Potomac Yard Metro station.

The Council, however, delayed a vote on another proposed district that would raise the property taxes of residents of the Potomac Greens neighborhood to help fund the station.

In the district created by the Council, new developments in the northern end of Potomac Yard would pay an additional 20 cents per $100 of assessed property value, generating about $500,000 a year in new tax revenues, Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks said.

The city is now considering setting up a second tax district that would raise taxes in nearby residential areas, possibly by 10 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Residents of the Potomac Greens neighborhood steadfastly oppose the creation of the second tax district. Neighborhood spokesman Mark Anderson said the city should not be allowed to raise the taxes of existing homeowners and proposed raising taxes citywide to pay for a station that would benefit the entire community.

Council members Alicia Hughes and Frank Fannon have joined the residents in opposing a tax increase on existing homeowners.

"There's a big difference between these existing properties and the new properties that people would be buying in the special tax district," said Fannon. "Everybody that would be buying properties in Potomac Yard knows clearly what the deal is."

The city is considering several alternatives for the disputed district, including lowering the tax rate, redrawing the district lines or simply dropping the district entirely. But if the city truly wants to build the station, it will have to find the additional revenue somewhere locally, Vice Chairman Kerry Donley warned.

"What we in Virginia are quickly finding is that if localities want to make substantial investments in transportation... we're going to have to do it on our own," Donley said.

Officials hope to have a recommendation before the Council and a vote on the second tax district by the end of March.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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Ben Giles

Staff Writer - Crime Beat
The Washington Examiner