The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is moving full speed ahead in its quest to raise property taxes on private residents near Tysons Corner. The supervisors are looking for a way to pay for a development plan that will primarily benefit businesses and developers. And instead of making those beneficiaries pay the full price of the public benefit they are receiving, supervisors have decided to make residents pay for the privilege of living in a far more congested neighborhood.
The only question at this point, according to a Sunday report from The Washington Examiner's Taylor Holland, is whether homeowners will be socked right away with an average $720 annual increase in the county's already sky-high property taxes, or whether the increase will be phased in gradually. The latter seems preferable for residents, but the latter option is tempting because politicians thoroughly deserve whatever backlash such a sudden tax increase might produce.
As we noted in an editorial two months ago, the supervisors created this problem for themselves. They approved the Metro Silver Line to Dulles, which they in turn used as an excuse to remake Tysons from its original vision as a suburban office park into a far more dense urban-style area. In pursuing this idea, officials have shown delusions of grandeur -- absurd and pretentious ideas, for example, of displacing the District as the metro area's main urban center. Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President Gerald Gordon demonstrated just such an attitude in November when he told a group of local business leaders that "Tysons' time has come ... Fairfax County is now the downtown. D.C. just became our suburb."
Worst of all, they did all of this without knowing how they were going to come up with the $3.1 billion that the Tysons project will require. Private residents will now become one of the many cash cows, to the tune of $250 million. Supervisors erred in voting down a superior option, which would have asked developers for a larger contribution in exchange for less stringent demands that they create below-market "affordable housing."
Either way, even with this squeezing of locals and the anticipated contributions of developers, the county will still be far short of what it needs to pay for the Tysons project. Overtaxed residents of Fairfax County may soon find themselves taxed even more heavily to pay for the conceit of their elected officials.