Fairfax approves tax increase on Tysons businesses, residents

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland,Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to raise the property taxes of residents and developers in Tysons to help fund the $3.1 billion transformation of the midsize office park into a vibrant downtown.

The 8-2 vote means taxes in Tysons will rise by 7 to 9 cents to raise about $250 million for road construction. Supervisors will set the rate of the increase before it kicks in on Jan. 1, 2014.

"Clearly, the time to act is now," Supervisor Jeff McKay, D-Lee, told fellow board members. "We can't keep talking about improvements in Tysons. We've got to start doing them."

The board had planned to vote on the tax increase in December but put off the decision until now after more than 25 residents voiced opposition to the plan. The board did not, however, change the proposal in any way before approving it.

Supervisors Linda Smyth, D-Providence, and Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, voted against the plan, citing the board's failure to make changes to bring it more in line with residents' concerns.

"I can't understand how after listening to many concerned citizens at the public hearing on this tax district, we deferred decision and have opted to make no adjustments to this plan," Herrity said. "Quite frankly, I am disappointed."

Board members did, however, unanimously agree to continue working with state legislators to change state laws that now prohibit the board from imposing the tax hike only on developers and businesses but not residents.

Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, plans to introduce in the General Assembly a bill that would either completely exempt residents who live in special tax districts or require that they be taxed at a lower rate than businesses in the same district.

"In Fairfax County, our future is in redevelopment," said board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. "We're going to need more tools and flexibility [from the state]."

The board hopes to raise $253 million for new ramps and roads from the tax district. The rest of the $3.1 billion needed to complete the project will come from developers and all county residents.

Under the county's plan, Tysons would become an urban center along Metro's new Silver Line, and home to 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs by 2050.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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