WASHINGTON – It’s a fiscal sign of the times. One of the D.C. area’s largest counties is feeling the financial squeeze again this year.
“Once again it’s going to be a difficult budget in Fairfax County,” says Sharon Bulova, chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.
Bulova says revenues are not growing the way they should be, both on the residential and commercial sides.
“We’re stalled,” she says, adding that revenues on the commercial side are flat despite slight growth on the residential side. “Part of the reason is sequestration concerns.”
Bulova also says that the business community is basically in a holding pattern.
“Ordinarily the business community would be filling up vacant office space,” she says. “They would be making decisions to expand or take positive action, but we’re just not seeing that right now.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is making transportation a major focus of this year’s General Assembly session, which pleases Bulova. However, she says she doesn’t understand why McDonnell wants to ditch the gas tax, something she thinks could help solve the county’s financial constraints.
“(The tax) sill brings in a sizable amount of money,” she says.
McDonnell is proposing dumping the gas tax, but increasing the state’s sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent with extra revenue going to transportation.
“Not that I wouldn’t be supportive of having more money from the sales tax be used for transportation, but I’m a little puzzled as to why he abolished the gasoline tax in his proposal,” Bulova says. “It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me.”
Bulova sees McDonnell’s transportation package as a vehicle to talk about and address the issue. But one issue she’s not happy talking about is the controversial tax hike to pay for transportation at Tysons, which will go into effect in January 2014.
Still, Bulova hopes that the General Assembly can help find a way around the hike, so that residents in the new tax area can opt out.