- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority last nightpassed a package of local taxes and fees that could generate $300 million a year for road and rail projects, despite public challenges on whether the board has the legal power to do so.

State Republican lawmakers have led the challenge, saying the 16 members from across the region are mostly elected officials but were appointed to the board, not elected to it.

“There are some clear provisions in the state constitution that the [authority] has to overcome,” said Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican. “Only governing bodies can levy a tax, and the [authority] is not one.”

Mr. Marshall was among about 150 people who came to the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church for the vote, which was preceded by hours of public comments.

Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William Republican, was the only authority member to vote against all seven taxes or fees.

“It seems like the easy thing to do these days is to raise taxes,” he said. “The hard thing to do is to roll up your sleeves like families and small businesses …and determine what [your] priorities are.”

The proposed taxes and fees and expected annual revenue are:

{bullet} Grantor”s tax — 40 cents on each $100 of value when residential property is sold, $171 million

{bullet}Motor-vehicle rental tax — 2 percent of rental rate, $9 million

{bullet}Transient occupancy tax — 2 percent of hotel rate, $25.3 million

{bullet}Vehicle safety inspection fee — $10 annually, $16.2 million annually

{bullet}Sales tax on auto repairs — 5 percent of labor charges, $33.2 million

{bullet}Regional vehicle registration fee — $10 annually, $17 million annually

c Initial vehicle-registration fee — 1 percent of purchase price (one-time), $64.6 million

“The frustration we all feel is we are being put in a position to raise taxes and fees when it should be the job of the General Assembly,” said Scott K. York, who voted against five of the seven.

Story Continues →