Group targets tax for Potomac Yard station
Alexandria's Citizens for Common Cents has begun distributing 200 yard signs to 16 locations to protest a proposed special tax district to help pay for the Potomac Yard Metro station. The "Just Say No to Any Special Taxes" signs will be at high-traffic locations in the Potomac Greens and Del Ray neighborhoods, which could be affected by a new special tax.
A new Metro station is part of Potomac Yard's multibillion-dollar redevelopment, with 7.5 million square feet of residential, retail and commercial space between Route 1 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway south of Four Mile Run and north of East Glebe Road. The station's cost is estimated to be between $190 million and $270 million.
City officials proposed two new special tax districts in the area to supplement developer contributions. The districts would add 10 or 20 cents per $100 of assessed value to a property tax bill. The revenue generated would be used to pay the debt on the Metro station's construction bonds.
"It is a slow education process," said Mark Anderson, a spokesman for Citizens for Common Cents. "It is amazing how many Alexandria citizens don't know" about the proposed special tax district.
The group, which met with city officials over the summer, says that the special tax district is arbitrary and could cost residents about $2,000 more per year on property taxes, already expected to rise with development, and that the rest of Alexandria should share the burden.
The group is planning a rush-hour rally at the corner of Slaters Lane and Potomac Greens Drive on Nov. 1, Anderson said.
Mark Jinks, Alexandria's deputy city manager, disagreed that the special tax district would cost residents $2,000 per property tax bill. He said the cost would be closer to $800 per year, based on the currently planned level of 10 cents per $100 of a property's value in the affected neighborhoods outside the new plan. Those taxes are scheduled to start when the Metro station opens, which would be 2016 at the earliest, he said.
The 20-cent district would be placed on properties built in the 69-acre plan. Jinks said these special tax districts have been planned for nearly a decade and were included in the Potomac Greens homeowner contracts.
The city council has requested that Jinks and city staffers bring a variety of options back to them regarding the proposed districts, including the geography, structure and rates. The report is expected before the end of the year, he said.
"The council wants us to come back with options [because] they were listening" to residents, Jinks said. "I think the council would consider it a completely open question."
-- Christy Goodman
Washington Post Editor
| October 25, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
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