County Leaders Say Costs Would Continue Even if Loudoun Dropped Metro

Supervisors and county government staff members last week continued to emphasize  that—despite dramatically escalating cost projections for Metro—the Loudoun realistically cannot back out of its Metro obligations.

County Administrator Tim Hemstreet outlined to the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee Feb. 14 some of the steps it would take to shelve the project—and what it would cost.

According to Hemstreet, removing Loudoun from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority compact would require General Assembly action to remove the county from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Zone which it created in 1966, followed by agreement from all members of the compact. Even if those actions took place, under the terms of its $195 million federal transportation infrastructure loan, Loudoun would still be responsible for completing construction of Metro tracks, stations, and parking garages—and to repay the loan. Defaulting on that loan would likely impact Loudoun’s triple-A credit rating, driving up the cost of borrowing for the county and having serious impacts on its own capital planning.

“We finish the construction, we pay back the debt, and then the service just doesn’t occur even though we built the stations,” summarized Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge).

Because the county’s authority to levy a gasoline sales tax is based on its inclusion in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Zone, the county also would lose authority for that 2 percent levy and the $5.7 million it is expected to bring in this fiscal year.

Land values around the Silver Line plans, which have risen, contributing to county higher revenues through real estate taxes, would be expected to drop off.

And the county could lose its ability to negotiate proffer agreements with developers. General Assembly action last year to restrict such deals included an exception for properties around Metro stations.

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4 thoughts on “County Leaders Say Costs Would Continue Even if Loudoun Dropped Metro

  • 2017-02-21 at 12:50 pm

    Did our BOS just admit to being possibly the worst negotiators in the world?

    According to the BOS, the other participants in METRO are just dying to have stations built beyond Dulles Airport because….. well, nobody can think of any reason why a Bethesda or a Springfield resident might want that. The BOS gave no rational reason why the addition of rail and stations beyond Dulles could not be renegotiated and halted. Yes, Loudoun may have to pay for some of the service to Dulles but a much smaller share. Building the garages might be useful as park-and-ride stations but you could probably renegotiate their scale as well.

    This was a total con job. The feds don’t want to throw money around needlessly. They would much prefer to have Metro serve only the people who need it. When a bunch of pro-Metro politicians put up strawmen arguments against renegotiation, you know we have serious integrity issues. I’m not saying Metro advocates don’t have a legitimate position, it’s just that their attempts to sabotage any discussion of changes to Metro plans is disingenuous and makes folks rightfully question every single word that comes out of their mouths. They should know better.

  • 2017-02-21 at 3:44 pm

    Loudoun County ended up with Metrorail because a previous Board of Supervisors adopted the “smart growth” part of the UN left-wing ideology of Agenda 21, a.k.a the sustainability movement, at the behest of the Piedmont Environmental Council, et al. Loudoun was to become a “sustainable community.” Why?

    Because it gave Loudoun preservationists the imprimatur to density pact the eastern 1/3 of the county and to downzone (outlaw public water and sewer, the mainstay of middle class housing) the rest of it. Minimum lot sizes became 20 or 40 acres in the huge preserved area. Legally, homebuilders had to build high density developments in the eastern 1/3 or build McMansions everywhere else (except the small towns). Buildable land became a precious and high-priced commodity. Modest middle-class, detached houses became prohibitive.

    Density-packing meant building townhouses, multi-family structures and a few detached houses on land that was to be razed and redeveloped or on undeveloped land, such as in the planned transit-oriented villages near Metrorail stations. It was the “perfect” solution to protecting the viewsheds of the estates in rural Loudoun.

    However, it was a nutty idea from the get-go. Those who were not intoxicated with “smart growth” preservation knew that the cost of rail into Loudoun was prohibitive. Also, rail was anything but versatile. Bus rapid transit would have moved more passengers, often more quickly, at a much cheaper price.

    So if you are wondering how we got into this financial imbroglio, you have just been informed.

  • 2017-02-21 at 4:52 pm

    I agree with the don’t just roll over sentiments! Where is the get well plan? Who is being replaced for mismanagement???

  • 2017-02-21 at 7:40 pm

    It’s about to get worse Loudoun Homeowners. Because we’re going to be the ones “paying up.” Metro announced today they need way more money from local jurisdictions, because they’ve done a bang up job over the years.

    Can anyone name any “public transit” system in America which actually runs in the black? Anywhere? Metro never will. Therefore, in order to establish the pipe dreams of enviro’s/lefty pols, we’re burdened with systems that are little more than jobs programs and opportunities for corruption.

    As another commentator has correctly said already: “We signed a contract, and they gave us the price later. ” How is that not malfeasance? Who does things like that? I bet anybody a C-Note right now, not a single Board member would do such a thing if they were personally buying a new car. But they did it to us.

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