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Northern Virginia Gets Some Authority

After a long public hearing that explored nearly every political division that has allowed traffic congestion to maintain a stranglehold on the Washington suburbs, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority voted rather quickly to begin prying the region loose.

In about a half hour, the 14 voting members of the panel approved seven new taxes and fees that the authority will raise more than $300 million annually for road, transit and other transportation improvements. The closest vote was the first, to create a grantor's tax of 40 cents per $100 on the sale price of a property, payable by the seller of the property.

The vote was 11-3, but that wasn't the only crucial number. Contained within that ratio was the vote of 7-2 among the authority members who represent the Northern Virginia jurisdictions whose residents will pay the tax. Equally important was the figure 86.4. That was the percentage of Northern Virginia's population represented by the yes vote.

The tax and the six other taxes and fees had to pass all three of those tests, in a first indication of the complexity created by the General Assembly when it empowered the panel.

Del. Jeff Frederick, apparently on the panel to deny it any realistic method of improving transportation services, voted no on all seven taxes and fees. Scott York, chairman of the board in Loudoun County, where thousands of families must organize their lives around the time it takes to get to and from work, voted no on all but two. Bryan Polk, vice mayor of the City of Manassas Park, voted no on the grantor's tax.

Much of the debate on the grantor's tax, designed to raise $171 million annually, was about whether it was fair to tax the seller rather than the buyer.

After deciding that Northern Virginia should swallow these taxes and fees, the panel served the dessert: A list of $102 million in initial projects that passed unanimously. (Everyone likes dessert.)

By Robert Thomson  |  July 13, 2007; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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When do these taxes go into effect?

Posted by: Whitney Wilson | July 13, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, it has finally happened. Richmond is now laughing their butts off with this latest demonstration of legislative idiocy. You can bet my next house will not be in Northern Virginia. Even Maryland, with its oppressive taxes, is looking good.

The feds and local governments should decentralize so people in Loudoun can work in Loudoun, etc.

Posted by: No NOVA Taxes for Transportation | July 13, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Folks, Remembers these names in november. Vote out these bums selling us down the river. It is time for VA to explore tolls on 95 and 66 so people passing through northern VA pay their share of what we are getting. NVA residents should have a tax exemption to these tolls since they are already footing the bill.

Posted by: Jamming | July 15, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone STILL think defeating the transportation sales tax referendum in 2002 was a good thing?

"Pay me now, pay me later".

Posted by: CEEAF | July 16, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

What irks me is that elected officials did not have the guts to do the tax increase, so they empower the NVTA to tax us. Non elected officials setting tax rates on the citizenry, a big no-no.

Posted by: Radwan | July 26, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

The Dulles Area Association of REALTORS started an on-line petition urging the repeal of a huge increase in the tax you pay when you sell your home in Northern Virginia as authorized by the General Assembly-approved transportation funding law (HB 3202). This is the same law that authorized those ridiculous driver fines that's the subject of another on-line petition at

If you're interested in urging lawmakers to repeal an increase in a tax that unfairly targets home sellers who may be MOVING out of the area and will no longer use the roads they are now required to subsidize, then go to

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