Manassas Journal Messenger 02-16-01


Rollison debate sales tax authority at Manassas forum


Chris Newman



Delegate Jack Rollison, R.-Woodbridge, and Delegate Bob Marshall, R.-Manassas

faced off in a panel discussion before the Prince William Committee of 100

on Thursday at Il Monastero Restaurant on the question of whether the General

Assembly bills to increase sales taxes for transportation.

The region’s transportation needs over the next 20 years face shortfalls

in funding, both said, but they differed on what effect on Prince William

a half-percent increase for $110 million annually would be.

Marshall said Prince William would be at a disadvantage with the regional

authority as the legislation now reads. Fairfax County, with 53 percent

of the region’s population, could decide whether the referendum passes even

if Prince William and smaller localities like Arlington voted it down.

Fairfax would be the 500-pound gorilla on the controlling authority through

its representation and decide what projects to build.

“You could be told you would get project A and the authority could

decide never to fund it,” Marshall said. “I designated this a

sucker list.”

Rollison said it is unlikely the region can get more funding from the

state. Northern Virginia has 26 percent of the state’s population, only

20 percent of its total lane miles, and gets roughly 25 to 28 percent of

state transportation dollars, Rollison said.

The rest of the state benefits from Northern Virginia because it provides

40 percent of state revenues, he said. Other area representatives will continue

to look for that money as well, he said.

The state hasn’t raised taxes for transportation since 1987 with a half-percent

sales tax increase and small gas tax increase. Real estate taxes have gone

up, along with health care and college costs, but transportation funding

sources have stayed the same, he said.

“The only way [to improve gridlock] is to pay for these roads, and

the only way we’re going to pay for them is cold hard American cash,”

he said.

Rollison clarified to questions that the sales tax is not a panacea,

but a choice that voters should have in November. “It’s going to cost

us some money but you’re going to have a choice. I’m going to have a choice.”

Marshall answered that the money raised by the sales tax hike would be

at the expense of future state dollars – the region only has 26 percent

of the delegates in Richmond and the majority, citing the sales tax revenue,

could take the other funds away, he said, to Rollison’s evident disagreement.

The panel also had George Shamer, vice chairman for legislative affairs

of the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Arthur Purves, president

of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance.

· Contact Chris Newman at [email protected].



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