Northern Virginia jurisdictions won't be getting any state money for transit in the next month until state and local officials can work out differences over a new funding plan.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board decided Wednesday to change how state money is dispersed for transit projects, bypassing the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to directly give an estimated $140.3 million in the next fiscal year to local communities and Metro.
But the state transportation board also decided to discuss the concerns of local Northern Virginia officials who oppose the move. It plans to freeze the funds, rather than redistribute them to others, until July 18 when it next meets.
The local jurisdictions still should be able to pay their bills even without the flow of cash, said NVTC spokeswoman Kala Leggett Quintana. But she said it isn't sustainable for more than a few months. However, she is hopeful about the coming discussions.
"We have another chance to work things out with the commonwealth of Virginia," she said.
Local jurisdictions had opposed the funding change on various grounds, including the concern that it would violate existing statutes and add unnecessary bureaucracy and fees for some small jurisdictions such as Falls Church.
But the state has said it wants to get credit for the transportation money it gives after hearing local officials incorrectly say that the state does not help pay the operating expenses of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
"The issue is simply that we feel it is more transparent for the money to go directly to the local governments and WMATA," Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Thelma Drake said.
But even so, the two sides don't necessarily have in mind the same types of meetings. The NVTC is expecting to have public meetings as more than two elected officials will likely be present, a requirement under state open meetings laws.
But Drake said she expected to have small meetings with individual jurisdictions, making sure no more than two local officials were present at a time. "We're willing to meet either way," Drake added.