Metro Drama

By Loudoun Insider

I’ve been super busy and unable to stay on top of the escalating Metro drama.  Leesburg Today lays out the craziness of last night’s meeting, which was supposed to be the final financing work session, but which of course never really got anywhere and they will need yet another. While I agree with the positions of Clarke, Higgins, and Reid, their last minute item is ridiculous, and I see no reason for yet another delay in the final vote (they want to push it to December).  Just vote it up or down (down, please).

Tonight is a public hearing.  I’m sure it is scintillating.

Discuss.


Comments

  • DC Beltway Bandit says:

    Jesus, yet another delay?

    This Board is proving that they can not make decisive decisions on difficult or controversial issues (Metro, Openband, etc). But they sure can create more government bureaucracy, does the County really need an Ombudsman’s office.

    Chairman York is attending to family business, but I don’t think the County can afford to be without him much longer.

    Vice-Chair Clarke is completely inept, she can not run a meeting to save her life. Clarke lacks leadership skills…period. Clarke is so vapid and is nasty to staff, applicants, citizens providing public input and she is especially nasty to her colleagues on the dias.

  • FedUp says:

    I caught the last 30 minutes of that meeting and it was ridiculous. They keep proposing all these different tax districts because they don’t want to fund it through the general fund and have to raise the tax rate only 3.5 cents. The reality is they will have a very difficult time creating any of those tax districts. They should be discussing what to cut from the bloated budget to get the $20 million a year they need to avoid a tax hike.

  • BlackOut says:

    Pretty uneventful meeting. I asked a reporter what she thought happened and she said about 60 40 for the metro, but that it was the same tired speeches made by many of the same metro detractors. Geez guys (Stoner) give it a rest folks know what you think. Saying it over and over ain’t going to add to your ranks.

  • Leej says:

    if this gets approved northern Virginia and dc will look like the biggest selfish jerks in the USA. ;-) blackout just like you are wrong about hospital you are wrong about this. sounds like you are worried this is not going to happen. like my friends are saying they are worried they are not going to have a job soon much less then this boondoogle . you don’t have the population to support this, end of story

  • BlackOut says:

    We still don’t have a hospital. Six years running and still no competition for Inova.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Sounds like some good old fashioned liberal media bias, there, BO. The opponents speeches were the same old tired stuff, but those of the pro-Metro lackeys weren’t??? I bet those pro-Metro speeches were off the charts with excitement!

  • BlackOut says:

    LI, that maybe true, I didn’t see a good part of the first half of comments. But the optouts I saw were the same folks. Stoner was ridiculous. He came off as a prickly curmudgeon giving a chaffing irascible lecture to a bunch of school kids. Delgaudio seemed to like the finger waging, but I can’t see how the malapropos tactic was influencing anyone.

  • BlackOut says:

    LI, can you point to any source that shows this Metro is not favored by a majority of citizens?

    BTW, a good part of the Stoner lecture was discounting the latest polls (as predicted) and explaining what a referendum was. Bizarre. How about pulling together some type of evidence or source that shows a majority being against Metro rather than acting like a small group of people snobbing about what’s best for the masses.

  • DC Beltway Bandit says:

    BO – you and others should watch the last 10 minutes of last night’s meeting. Two Supervisors called the Loudoun Opt-Out crowd, liars, frauds etc…

  • BlackOut says:

    I’ll try DCBB. I am sure some of the opt-outs aren’t liars and frauds.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    The prevailing misconception seems to be (among some in optouttaxpig) that a referendum can be had on whether or not to DO it. A referendum is a finance question, i.e. “should Loudoun contract a debt and issue bonds in the amount of….for the purpose of…”. Without a specific finance question (as opposed to the Carl Sagan script of BILLyuns and BILLyuns of dollars per week for the rest of forever), nothing to have ON a referendum.

    With Ken Reid’s perhaps inadvertent (but refreshingly honest) admission at the last worksession that they worked on the wishlist for some time, but it was difficult because they had to avoid triggering open meeting laws, it has created a fairly pungent whiff that some are not working on possible finance methods, but on how not to do it at all, which means even LESS likelihood of any specific finance question to put ON a referendum.

    The closing remarks last night involved several supes calling out David LaRock and the optouttaxpig for parking the pig in residential neighborhoods in their districts and spamming flyers (again with the county logo) saying there would definitely be a $.21 additional tax on their homes, when that was a staff option that the BoS took off the table.

    They said it was fraudulent to continue to use county logos (which it is), lying to claim there was a specific tax already approved (which it is), and pretty cowardly to do it anonymously (which it is).

    Eugene said anyone who wanted Metro needed to “just go away”, which was interesting, and applauded the optouttaxpig for being so “hard working”.

    I think that by either directly praising (or studiously ignoring, while presenting the same talking points in a last minute wishlist) the lesser antics of the failed Stockman campaign/No Tax ever anywhere nohow crowd, it doesn’t redound well on the BoS members who DON’T call it out: they took an oath to represent the county, and it is NOT okay to do some of the things the little crowd is doing, impersonating county agencies being a prime offense.

  • BlackOut says:

    Well said Barbara. Well said.

  • G.Stone says:

    “BTW, a good part of the Stoner lecture was discounting the latest polls (as predicted) and explaining what a referendum was”

    Had you actually been paying attention over these many months and following what has actualy been said by electeds you would know what the “referendum” issue about.
    I was not discounting polls I was discounting statements by Matt L that no referenendum was needed in that public input sessions were all that was needed. He equated a favorable showing at a public input session to a referendum. It was frankly a dumb thing to say, but he said it. All I did was point it out and attempt to educate him (them ) on the difference.
    Again, you really have no idea to that specific issue was and remain ignorant of the position (s)of some in opposition to Metro. Do some work please.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    And Greg, you seem to continue to ignore that without a specific finance question to be put to voters, there is no possibility of a referendum.

    Matt was not equating the two, because he knows what both are, and aren’t.

    I realize it may be more useful for you to continue to equate the purpose of the two, because it makes a nice rollout for a step two of the wishlist, i.e. get it put back to December, THEN we can put it on the ballot, and since we keep saying referendum, we can spam that next.

    Um, if they don’t do their job and create a finance option at any of their finance worksessions they keep scheduling then wasting time on political grandstanding instead of finance, there’s nothing to put to a referendum.

    Which is fine too, no doubt.

    Delay, defeat, deny.

  • BlackOut says:

    Thanks for the lecture there Stoner. You had more vitriol in your game last night. With that said you should listen to Barbara for your study material.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    Aside @ Barb – the mighty Franklin Park Stingrays (fresh off their victory over the Lovettsville Dolphins this past saturday) will take on the South Riding (poser) Stingrays this evening. Look out!!

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    *poser* Stingrays?!

    YOU look out!

    :D

  • Ellie Lockwood says:

    @BarbaraMunsey. Am I wrong in thinking it would be difficult, if not impossible, to put specific finance language in a referendum since WMATA will be able to charge whatever they want/need once Loudoun joins the Compact? BTW, I’m not a fan of most interstate Compacts…especially THIS one.

  • Ben Dover says:

    Go Stingrays!!!!

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Ellie, you seem to be asking the question based on the supposition that it would be impossible because we would somehow be obligated for more than the percentages already committed to by preceding boards.

    A specific tax (like No Meals Tax, or No Road Tax–we already have a name, i.e. No Metro Tax, but no specific tax plan) could be put on the ballot, or any plan to bond the obligation.

    Just “having a referendum” on Metro indicates a clear lack of knowledge on what a referendum is.

    Which makes it all the more interesting when people attack Matt for supposedly not understanding what one consists of.

    So no, until there is a specific plan of a type that COULD be put to a vote, there won’t be one, because there can’t.

    And there won’t be a specific plan until the supes actually work on finance in finance worksessions.

  • FedUp says:

    “…saying there would definitely be a $.21 additional tax on their homes, when that was a staff option that the BoS took off the table.”

    That was taken off the table? The special tax district or the $.21 rate? That could mean a special tax district, with up to a $.20 rate, is still on the table.

    The only option that seems to have been taken off the table is tapping the general fund.

    If 80% of the county is for the metro, then surely those folks don’t mind paying for it, right? A base tax rate hike ensures that everyone pays a fair share, as opposed to a 2-mile special tax district, which would place the burden of funding metro on less than 10% of county property owners.

    Why then are the majority of supervisors so afraid to use the general fund? Maybe they know the majority of their constituents would like to have metro, but don’t want to pay for it?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    fed up, the one and two mile tax districts were taken off the table. That was the map used in the latest optouttaxpig fake flyer, with the news that a $.21 rate was definite.

    They SHOULD use the general fund, but because this has been a political dance among various wings of the party, and some various campaign crews, everone wants to play the “don’t tax my district” game.

    Dangerous road to go down, when even Eugene pointed out, they are ALL “filthy liberals” looking for expenditures in their own districts at one time or another, even him.

    The facts of the matter remain, the optouttaxpig has pulled some stunts that should neither be praised nor ignored, some political stunts have been pulled when they should have been working on finance models in good faith, and as the LTM editorial points out, sooner or later the vote needs to be faced.

    And then so will the results of that vote, whether it means actually adhering to whatever model is agreed to if it passes, or whatever the political fallout from the majority of county citizens shall be if it fails.

    Not to mention the intraparty fallout, since a victory last year energized all the good cannibals.

  • FedUp says:

    “The prevailing misconception seems to be that a referendum can be had on whether or not to DO it.”

    Bonds will have to be issued to finance the Silver Line capital costs, so the referendum would be legitimate. What happens if it is rejected? Where does the county get the financing? Would that force the county to opt out?

  • BlackOut says:

    I don’t think so FedUp. It would just mean we would need to find funding from a more expensive source. if the referendum failed it would not jeopardize an already approved project. That’s the point it’s only a referendum on the funding. You are also assuming bonds are going to be needed. Not sure that’s been decided on yet.

    I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about a referdum not passing. We are already seeing a high confidence number in the 70% range of folks that want this project.

  • FedUp says:

    BO, if a referendum fails for a public school facility, for example, then there are other financing options, albeit more expensive, such as bonds secured through the VPSA or a lease-purchase agreement, but I’m not sure you’re going to find another source for a $270 million non-school project like metro.

    It would be interesting to see how that 70% number holds up when folks are told they will actually have to pay for the metro. The question definitely belongs on the ballot this November.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    fed up, to get on the bond in November, first there would have to be a delay to avoid “opting out”, because if we aren’t in, why would we ask the voters to approve a method of finance?

    As BlackOut said, any failure would simply mean a more expensive method, because at that point we’d be in.

    MWAA has said no more extensions.

    Neither does “opting in” mean we must bond it. A referendum at this point in the process is just another flag being handed out to wave by the plastic pig.

    So it’s decision time, and a damn shame that so much time was wasted in political posturing instead of trying to work out a plan–in fact, most time wasted trying to respond to those who it has become apparent have no intention of voting in favor no matter what is on the table.

    I would be hesitant to assume that such a bond would fail if we opted in and it existed.

    In fact, what I think we would see is more posturing, hoopla and dishonest publicity stunts in an important presidential election year that WOULD affect Loudoun percentages (chestbeating by those few individuals who give us all of our elected reps be damned) in races on the ballot this year, and perhaps next year as well, depending on who the Dems run against Cuccinelli.

    What we may be seeing is little more than the usual push by the very hard right to push things further right, which happens after every large victory because each sect has to claim it entirely for their own. The party gets trashed in the process, and so does any issue unfortunate enough to be selected as the battleground on which the party shall die THIS year.

    And it happens in both parties.

    But we elected a “9-0 Republican™ Board”, so OBVIOUSLY that means there will be unanimous votes on EVERYTHING that those activists, who give us both our electeds and a plastic pig, agree with 100%, right?

    Because you’re not a ____________________ unless….

    They need to spend their last worksession actually working (which some of them have done yeoman’s work trying to do) and then vote.

    It will happen how it happens, and for years to come.

  • FedUp says:

    “any failure would simply mean a more expensive method”

    Such as?

    “Neither does “opting in” mean we must bond it”

    What are the alternatives? Hope the metro contractors will be kind enough offer a finance plan for services rendered instead of an immediate payment?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    The alternatives are tax districts to start accumulating funds, which won’t come due for some time yet, and given the promise to continue to cut the county budget, I think the general fund should be back on the table: if they cut .10, and put .03 back in to start money toward rail, it’s a net cut of .07, which of course will not please the plastic pig, because the tax rate “should” be .89 total. And then if by some serious slashing they GET to .89, it should REALLY be .62. And so on.

    As I’ve said, the worksessions should have been spent on serious discussion of options, rather than drawing political lines and dancing.

  • Leej says:

    here is what I think about this whole rail thing anymore ;-)

    I am just happy I am married to Dalyn . and i have friends back to first grade. :-) lets talk about real issues here. lets talk about the homeless kids. lets talk about habitat these are basic issues in life. good side of rail it puts a lot of people to work. downside is the money that does not exist loudoun county anymore.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    Thank you Leej for that homily. And the reality check.
    The “wealthiest county in the US” is a title based on median household income which means nothing until the median household debt is subtracted. That would include owing more than the house will assess for.

    Wealthy county with so many homeless kids going to school but eager to assume staggering debt. The supervisors know they can always put it on the residential sector.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    The residential sector is all there is–we are a bedroom community, both east and west.

    And I say “and west” advisedly–very few people farm for their living, but many take advantage of the right to farm status and our very low bar for meeting land use deferrals to enjoy greatly-reduced property taxes with advantages that are not available in the suburban policy area.

    The rural policy area has a lot of commuters too, who commute longer distances, from the larger lots that allow the practices that enable the deferrals.

    The entire county is primarily a bedroom community, and if the rural bedroom community wants to keep pretending it is primarily a farm community (while commuting through the area that pays most of the taxes, on horrible substandard roads that have stayed that way thanks to some of the same folks’ previous opera, No Road Tax), then the suburban bedroom community needs to have the tools necessary to attract the kind of business development that will beneift everyone.

    And benefit everyone it will.

  • DC Beltway Bandit says:

    And Barbara that is exactly why I think you were a (albeit controversial) qualified planning commissioner. You “get-it” and you’re not afraid to call a spade a spade.

    I have always maintained if the County proposes a special Metro tax district, then the BoS should immediately create a special “Mountain view” tax district. Loudoun is no longer a true rural or farming community, yet Western folks have benefited from the tax revenues generated from the Eastern folks.

  • mosborn says:

    “Western folks have benefited from the tax revenues generated from the Eastern folks.”

    Isn’t that how county taxes work?

    People with kids have benefited from the taxes my family pays. Should we create special tax districts around people with kids too?

  • BlackOut says:

    I don’t support tax districting for this project. At least not for all of it.

    Every person in this county will benefit from Loudoun Metro. Now the optpigs will say they will never ride it. OK. That’s fine, but there is a universal benefit to less cars on the road and the economic benefits of building metro. Both of which benefit everyone. This ain’t just about building Metro and only about who rides it and therefore taxing them. Everyone resident of Loudoun will gain something from this important project.

    We don’t create tax districts around High Schools. We don’t create tax districts around parks, we don’t create tax districts around police stations. Doing so is disingenuous and unworkable. There is a collective good to this stuff.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Don’t worry BO, if this thing passes, you’ll get your wish.

    There is more bait and switch on the way.

    These tax districts have to be consented by 51% of those subjected to it. Why would any business owner do that? If they shoot it down, then the County has to pick it up because the devious ones have already opted in.

    Therefore, if the business owners shoot it down (and if they are smart they will), then Loudoun County has to pay for it out of general revenue (ie. property taxes)?

    1. BoS says: Residents won’t have to pay for it…get public approval for opt-in
    2. Fail to get 51% of business owners to agree to a new tax
    3. Since Loudoun already opted in, residents get stuck with the bill coming out of the general fund (i.e. more property taxes)
    4. BoS can claim it wasn’t THEIR fault they couldn’t get consensus.

  • BlackOut says:

    Worse case scenario DD, two cups of Starbucks a month. I think we can afford that. The sky is not falling nor will it fall.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    sounds to me like it finally sunk in that we’d have to opt in to have a referendum.

  • David Dickinson says:

    No, BO, that’s not the sorst thing that can happen. What would happen is that the costs of Metro would be higher than estimated (shocker).

    It won’t be 2 cups of coffee. It will be cuts from your precious LCPS budget…the only agency in the Loudoun County budget large enough to cut to get numbers big enough for Metro.

    As you know, I’m no LCPS fan. But, if we have to waste money somewhere, I’d rather waste it on an LCPS budget that we have sovereignty over versus an MWAA bill that we have to pay no matter how high it is.

    Metro is stupid money.

  • liz says:

    David, whether or not the BOS approves the three stops in Loudoun, Loudoun will still have to pay for Metro if it comes to the airport.

    If it doesn’t come to the airport? Well, it won’t be doomsday, but it won’t be pleasant. The fallout from that would be felt by Loudoun for decades.

    What I don’t get is why you’re so against something that is going to bring tax-paying businesses here, removing some of your tax burden. I would’ve thought that you’d welcome it.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Liz, the Funding Agreement is clear ..and the County’s Attorney agrees, that Loudoun pays $0 if it opts-out.

    The easement for the Silver Line is there no matter what Loudoun County decides. If we opt-out now, it doesn’t mean Metro No! it means Metro-Not Yet. At some point in the future it can be run out to 772. MWAA has the right, and Loudoun can’t stop it.

    It is all about the money and who pays for it. MWAA wants Loudoun because we have a AAA bond rating and they don’t. They need Loudoun to “co-sign” their loan. That’s it.

    As the Lesser report point out, there is no reliable way to calculate what businesses would or would not appear. The variables are too great. What metro does do, is concentrate development that, in their opinion, most likely happens anyway.

    Loudoun County has a simple way to fix the tax burden. Stop approving residential development. Period. No more. Approve commercial, but not residential and eventually, the balance would return.

  • liz says:

    David, “stop approving residential development”? Do you know how many thousands of houses are already in the pipeline, approved and unbuilt? How unbuilt by-right houses could be built with no approval whatsoever? If the BOS present and future never approved another residential development, there are still tens of thousands that are going to be built, not needing any further approval.

    “Approve commercial”, what commercial operations are going to want to come to Loudoun if we say no to Metro? Businesses love Metro. Ask the Chamber of Commerce if you don’t believe me.

    Mass Transit is the key to getting more businesses into Loudoun County. More businesses are the key to lowering your taxes.

    And hello, tolls and fees are taxes. If the tolls rise on 267 even higher than currently planned to pay for Metro to the airport, who do you think will be paying for that? Not Fairfaxians (they’ll be riding the Silver Line). It’s Loudouners who will be paying those tolls, or opting to take Rte 7 or Route 50, which will then be bigger messes than they already are.

    And finally, mass transit brings more choices to the region. More choices are supposed to be the basis of a free market. Are you against a free market?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Liz, don’t try to have the development argument.

    The taxpig himself called me some time ago to try to get me to set up a meeting in Dulles (a supervisor of another district suggested it, but told taxpig that they themself didn’t think it proper to call me for them; I said they were just probably exercising professional courtesy toward Matt by not working unannounced in someone else’s district. I said it with a straight face, too), andsaid they didn’t know how up to speed I was, then proceeded to tell me how much new development would come with Metro.

    I began to talk about Moorefield Station, which the taxpig seemed pretty thoroughly in the dark over. I tried to bring him a bit up to speed.

    The anti-development rhetoric is pretty funny coming from the tp, who builds custom homes on large lots in the rural policy area. Beautiful craftsmanlike homes too. You can buy your own piece of property, or select one of their lots (?) (!).

    Maybe they actually believe that Metro will magically immediately change the Comp Plan, and their own product will be in danger?

    Who knows.

  • Hillsboro says:

    I am shocked! Shocked to find that Barbara has turned the Metro debate into another assault on western Loudoun!

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    nope, hillsboro.

    And I’m not shocked that the handful of folks who ran the Chase and Stockman campaigns have invented a new fake identity to lobby the east with.

  • BlackOut says:

    David, you’re getting your untruths mixed up.

    I bet you’re back on saying this is a 2.1 BILLION dollar deal. Read the data from Matt’s report as provided by the folks that have the numbers. It’s two Starbucks. Maybe I should buy you a Starbucks triple espresso to get you to wake up and look at it.

    Come to think of it, that wouldn’t work you have your agenda and it really doesn’t matter what the numbers are or what the County attorney has said.

    So what church you guys going to hit this Sunday?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    I’m enjoying some of the comments on the L2Day article about the CTB loan for Gloucester and Pacific–quite negative, from some of the same people who want to OptOut (because we should be spending on roads instead?).

    Maybe if a few more logjams at state and federal level open up, we can have the return of No Road Tax, No Bus Tax, and No Metro Tax I, II, and III, accompanied by No MWAA IG Tax.

    And I hear Ed Kravitz is going to primary Buona in the next election. Can’t wait.

  • Hillsboro says:

    An interesting post and commentary at Bacon’s Rebellion on the Pocahontas Parkway fiasco.

    “The 8.8-mile highway, which creates a southeastern bypass for the Richmond metropolitan region, was promoted as an economic development project and opened in 2002. Toll revenues did not live up to forecasts, however, and the project was close to defeasing on its bonds. Transurban took over in 2006, recapitalized the project and began operating the toll road. Now it, too, has lost its shirt.”

    Jim Bacon brings Loudoun up in regards to both the expectation of growth that may not materialize from Metro, and the speculative nature of the CTB gambling on Kincora – a high risk real estate ventures in the exurbs.

    http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2012/06/lessons-from-the-pocahontas-parkway-fiasco.html#comments

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching all the historic “no roads because they cost taxes” people suddenly become “no metro, because we can do roads”, and am awaiting the flip back once metro is killed, if it is.

    Bacon has always played host to Risse, who peoples an alternative universe of his own–in which no nothing is good outside of his new urbanist fantasies.

    The CTB loan has apparently provided the catalyst after all–necessary links in Loudoun’s road grid are very very bad, it seems, even though we must remember to kill metro because we’d RATHER do roads.

    Makes sense–a whole lot of words, and the answer to everything is very simple: “no”.

  • Hillsboro says:

    Bacon hosts a lot of folks. I don’t think Ed Risse has contributed in almost a year. Way to keep current!

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Anything Barb can do to deride anything associated with smart growth and against sprawl.

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