The big discussions about the future of Interstate 66 travel tend to focus on tolling and widening. But the success of the Virginia government’s plan to ease congestion hinges on convincing many more commuters to leave their cars behind. Even those who are going to pay tolls to use the HOT lanes will care about this, because toll revenue will go to support those leave-the-car options. That’s why Northern Virginia officials and advocates for better transportation service will take a lot of interest in the initial proposals presented to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the local group assigned by the state to pick which ones should be financed.
This week, the Virginia Department of Transportation will hold two public meetings to describe its plans to extend the 95 Express Lanes north along I-395 to the Potomac River. Here’s what you need to know. Virginia officials describe the project as an extension of the original public-private partnership that create the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes along 29 miles of I-95, to just north of the Capital Beltway. In November, VDOT signed a preliminary agreement with the consortium that built and operates the 95 Express Lanes, but the state and the private partners are still working on a final deal.
Prince William County soon will have an official government budget for the next fiscal year. But it isn’t yet clear what that spending plan will look like. Acting County Executive Christopher E. Martino proposed a $2.9 billion budget Feb. 16 that would increase residential real estate tax bills by nearly 4 percent. The average increase would be $145, or $12.09 per month on a mortgage, to an annual total of $3,877. The real estate tax rate would rise to $1.145 from the current $1.122 per $100 of assessed value.
Prince William County’s AAA status with a “stable outlook” has been reaffirmed by all three major credit rating agencies – Moody’s Investor Services, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings. The reaffirmations come as part of the county’s financing efforts to secure funds to support the Prince William County Public Schools’ Capital Improvement Program. “The Board of County Supervisors’ long-standing commitment to effective fiscal management, has been the driving factor in making certain we are able to provide the revenue for capital construction projects at the lowest possible cost to our residents,” said board Chairman Corey Stewart, R- At large. “This credit rating and low interest rate creates significant savings and allows the schools to maximize revenues for strategic priorities, such as class-size reduction.”
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart wants to save property owners about $70 – or about $6 a month — on their real-estate tax bills next year. To do it, he’s talking about hiring fewer additional police officers, ditching a proposal to outfit the police department with body-worn cameras and cutting proposed county funding to Prince William schools by as much as $8 million. Why cut so much to save so little? Stewart, R-At Large, says it’s about slowing the growth of real estate taxes over time.
Prince Willian leaders delay county budget approval
Will the Prince William County Board of Supervisors pass a budget for 2017? The law requires that it approve a balanced budget, but so far there have been no signs that it will. The Board voted to delay the budget markup meeting until Tuesday where traditionally, the governing body goes line-by-line and keeps in or leaves out expenditures. The move delays the approval of the final approval of the budget, which had been scheduled for April 19. The Board has until May 15 to meet its legal requirement to approve a budget. Supervisors have been deadlocked on a how to proceed with the budget. Half of the Board of eight Supervisors advocates a residential tax bill increase of 3.88% consistent with the adopted five-year funding plan.
Virginia is on a similar trajectory as Richmond, with foreclosure activity 62 percent below the state peak in the second quarter of 2010, but still above the prerecession average, Blomquist said. A total of 6,377 households in the state received a notice of foreclosure in the first quarter, up nearly 38 percent from the same period a year ago, RealtyTrac reported. “Neither the Richmond area or Virginia have gotten back to normal levels of foreclosure activity,” Blomquist said.
In one grand bargain, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and General Assembly budget leaders have reached an agreement that would allow $2.1 billion in pending capital projects to proceed, along with a long-standing plan to replace the General Assembly Building and provide funding to build a new juvenile correctional center and a new facility for civilly committed sexually violent predators. The amendments that McAuliffe proposed Sunday to a bond package adopted by the legislature would end a political standoff over the 2-year-old plan to transform the seat of government around Capitol Square and avert what he had warned would be a long delay in critical projects at colleges and universities, as well as state parks and a state mental hospital.
Forty-four of Virginia’s 140 part-time, citizen lawmakers own at least $5,000 worth of stock in companies that lobby the General Assembly. Nineteen of those lawmakers own somewhere between $50,000 and $250,000 in stock in those companies with interests before them, while seven lawmakers own more than $250,000 in stock, according to figures released Thursday by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in state politics.
Virginia state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves has more than $290,000 on hand for his 2017 campaign for lieutenant governor, the Spotsylvania Republican announced Thursday, one day ahead of a state fundraising deadline. Reeves announced his candidacy in March, as the General Assembly was winding down its 60-day legislative session. Legislators are prohibited from raising money during that period. Reeves collected more than $100,000 in direct contributions in the first two weeks after the session and transferred another $100,000 from his Senate campaign account. He ended the first quarter with nearly $293,000 in cash.
Government Affairs Coordinator