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Posted at 1:41 PM ET, 10/25/2010

Group targets tax for Potomac Yard station

By Washington Post Editor

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

By Washington Post Editor  | October 25, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
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Instead of creating new taxes, The City of Alexandria could reverse its deficit in 30 days by selling off the dozens of high end luxury town homes it currently owns and gives rent free to public housing. In one neighborhood alone, Quaker Hill, the city owns many beautiful townhouses (community pool, club house, free yard maintenance, gorgeous landscaping) that are worth 450,000-550,000 each. Plus the condos. Do the math, that’s 30 million dollars the city owns in just one luxury neighborhood 10 minutes from the Pentagon. That buys a lot of rent vouchers. This is NOT a suggestion to sell their regular public housing projects, but where is a garage townhouse with Pool called public housing? Alexandria, that’s where. Today there are 377 rental properties available now sitting empty in Alexandria. Those persons currently in luxury public housing should get rental vouchers. The townhouses in Quaker Hill should be sold via Alexandria Real estate agents who are chosen by a drawing. They should be sold one by one agent per townhouse. The new buyers will make improvements, and it will be win win for the local economy. There is one townhouse in Quaker Hill on sale now by a private owner for the 600’s. While TC Williams and the local public schools implode from neglect, Alexandria is hoarding this INSANE cache of sought after properties at the luxury level for public housing in zip code 22314. Currently many are not occupied, (being redecorated at taxpayers expense!!!). Alexandria needs to SELL THEM NOW and stop raising taxes.

Posted by: whoseyrmama | October 25, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Just curious: When WMATA built the NY Ave stations a few years ago, was there a special tax levied on DC residents in the area to pay for it? I don't recall hearing about it, but I may be wrong. If not, then why do Alexandria residents of Potomac Yard have to pay it? And another question: A metro station costs a quarter of a BILLION dollars? Are you serious?

Posted by: B-rod | October 26, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey B-rod,

Don't worry, if our City officials have anything to do with it, there will be substantial cost overruns for the station. Don't forget, we need imported Italian tile for the station. Concrete or domestic just won't do.

Isn't it interesting that Alexandria will raise your taxes when they put things in your neighborhood they believe are positives, but will simply ignore you when they put things (like homeless shelters) in your neighborhood that hurt your land value?

Fair is fair, except when you deal with Alexandria and its political machine.

Posted by: BudMiller | October 26, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This is so ironic...the Montgomery County council and this newland developer tried implementing a special taxing district on 3 specific developments in allof Clarksburg Maryland to pay for items that are NOT only public in nature but would benefit EVERYONE including non-clarksburg inequitable. I feel their pain..fight it...If this 25 mil they want to charge residents for some pedestrian bridge is the reason...don't fall for this scam. If county and state govts cannot pay for's a novel idea...don't build it! This situation up here in Md is also a case of taxation without representation. The developer, at the time they owned all of the land voted YES for the development district as they met the 80% approval by resident rule...if that isn't bending the rules and breaking the spirit of this legal requirement I don't know what is AND they are pitting neighbors and neighborhoods against each other making selected residents pay excessive taxes while other developments, often across the street, are exempt...and these are also new developments too and not just older that fair and equitable...I don't think so....

Posted by: michaelaudet | October 26, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

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