The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase property taxes on Tysons residents and developers as a means of partially funding billions of dollars in transportation infrastructure that will help turn the area into the county’s walkable, mixed-use downtown center.
The decision, which passed by an 8-2 vote, came about a month after a two-hour public hearing in which many angry Tysons residents objected the tax hike.
With an expected increase of between 7 and 9 cents per $100 of assessed value, the district is expected to generate $253 million over the next 40 years. The exact rate will be set during the adoption of the county’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget in April.
After a rate is set, tax collection in the new district would start next year.
“The action that we’re taking here today is extremely responsible,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Approving the tax district ensured the county would have a funding source for a vital component of the Tysons revitalization, Bulova said.
By 2050, county officials expect Tysons to be home 100,000 and 200,000 jobs.
Supervisors Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) and Linda Smyth (D-Providence) voted against the tax district.
Smyth said the tax increase was unfair to Tysons residents who wouldn’t necessarily benefit from road projects meant to help commuters and developers.
“People are angry and they are very concerned at this way of doing business,” Smyth said, adding she had received correspondence from many residents who were “universally opposed” to the issue. “Frankly, I understand exactly how they feel.”
But Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) said the economic upsides of improving roads and infrastructure in Tysons would allow the planned redevelopment – and in turn, the entire county – to prosper.
“It has been one of the greatest goals of our county to rebuild Tysons Corner,” Cook said. “People come here for jobs … We’re building Tysons to launch another era of economic development.”
Herrity voted against the motion because he said he could not support burdening residents and businesses with tax increases when new developers could pay more.
“It would do us good to take a page from our successful history and fund these critical transportation needs through proffer contributions and not on the backs of our taxpayers,” Herrity said in a statement.
Herrity was also upset the Board chose to pass the tax district without making any meaningful changes to the proposal, after listening to so much opposition from residents at the December hearing.
“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,” he said. “Quite frankly I am disappointed.”
But Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) said the Board had to make a decision if the county’s longstanding plan for Tysons was ever going to take shape.
“Clearly, the time to act is now,” he said. “We can’t keep talking about improvements in Tysons Corner. We’ve got start doing them, and you can’t do them unless you have the money.”
In a separate motion, the Board formally committed to working with the General Assembly during its 2013 session, which begins Wednesday, to try to relieve some of the burden on homeowners.
Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) has announced plans to introduce a bill that would exempt residents from the Tysons tax district. Fairfax Officials would have to readjust the funding scheme should such a bill be successful.
But a motion from Smyth to exempt residential property owners died without a second in October. Supervisors said the General Assembly likely wouldn’t support such a proposal.