Tax Hikes in Arlington to Pay for Mass Transit

As a rule, I have been laudatory of Arlington County’s transportation and land use policies, which have created an urban environment supportive of walking, bikes, buses and Metro rail as an alternative to the one-man/one-car lifestyle. But there is a downside: It’s expensive.

Yesterday, Arlington County moved one step closer to hiking taxes on retail and commercial properties in order to raise $37.5 million in transportation improvements, including the Columbia Pike trolley and the Crystal City Potomac Yard transit project. Reports Kirstin Downey with the Washington Post:

If the tax increase is approved, as appears likely, Arlington would become the second Northern Virginia county, after Fairfax, to take advantage of a provision in the state transportation agreement passed by the General Assembly in April that allows local jurisdictions to increase commercial tax rates and keep the money to spend on transportation projects. The state previously required that governments impose a uniform tax on residential and commercial properties.

Local Republicans, a powerless minority in Arlington, have protested the proposed tax increase. But Downey says the business lobby has generally been supportive “because of widespread belief that transportation improvements are vitally needed.”

Here’s the question that Arlingtonians need to ask: What’s the cost/benefit ratio for the proposed transportation projects? How much will Arlingtonians save in reduced traffic congestion and/or the ability to shift to a one-car-per-household lifestyle in comparison to the cost of funding the projects? The Washington Post does not ask the question. Citizens and taxpayers should.

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5 responses to “Tax Hikes in Arlington to Pay for Mass Transit”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    …”Local Republicans, a powerless minority in Arlington, have protested the proposed tax increase. But Downey says the business lobby has generally been supportive”

    and the “Republicans competitive, alternative approach is ????

    to hum “no new taxes” and “let’s run those immigrants out on a rail”

    and they wonder why Republicans are going extinct in NoVa?

    You wanna know why Republicans are going extinct in NoVa?

    Who is in charge of Virginia Republicans? Oh.. I remember now – the guy who thinks talking about Virginia ‘values” in NoVa will turn things around.

    Hmmm.. are these the same guys who think they have the “right stuff” to lead all Virginians including it’s urban areas?

    Instead.. they’re writing a book entitled: “How to elect tax & spend majorities”.

    I give Bacon credit… he is VERY tolerant especially of knuckle draggers.

  2. Anonymous Avatar


    I agree just saying NO to everything doesn’t work. I think Jim was arguing that noone is asking how effective this plan is.

    Fairfax is doing much better this year. Our new chairman is all about ideas and we have an excellent candidate in Baise on down into the suprevisor and school board districts

    Here is the platfrom that we are running on

    We also unanimouly passed an excellent (IMHO) immigration piece which I will post at some point. I think they want to do an official press release package in the next couple of days first.


  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    NMM – thanks for the link…

    I hope what I read in WaPo about Baise getting confused between the sales and income taxes… was wrong.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    These two projects are really more about building up commercial and retail districts than enhancing residential movement. Both areas are pretty well served by buses though the Columbia Pike buses get trapped in traffic which the trolleys may get more dedicated right of ways.

    On Columbia Pike there is good bones for retail and offices to go along with the residential density, but there are too many vacant commercial spaces and underutilized lots. A trolley should attract both commuters and shoppers into the area via the pentagon transfer point. This is about both increasing capacity for the corridor and giving the area more character in order to draw development to the corridor.

    I believe the Crystal City project is just to set up a BRT within the new National Gateway project at the south end of Crystal City. This is important as a large number of workers arrive to CC via VRE and metro. There is already a CC circulatory route, and I’m not sure of the details of this, if it’s an enhancement or another service. The current service doesn’t go to Potomac Yards or to the housing south of there so this might be a connecting service.

    As a S. Arlington resident, it’s nice to actually see the county throwing us a bone with the trolley compared to how much money goes into the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.


  5. Richard Layman Avatar
    Richard Layman

    You’re probably not into my push for a transit withholding tax similar to how it’s done in 4 counties in Oregon, for DC. It’s probably not likely to go far as it would be called a commuter tax. But 70% of the jobs in DC are not held by residents, and we need to expand the transportation infrastructure.

    I propose that all of this money be used for transportation infrastructure enhancement. Much would be for transit, including bringing back the old proposal for a separated blue line subway in the center city, this would add a tunnel crossing north of Rosslyn and would provide additional stations-capacity-service in the core of the city, as well as service to new areas such as Georgetown.

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