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Frank Wolf has just released a damning indictment of MWAA’s crooked accounting and business practices. How can our BOS continue to pursue rail under these conditions? Thank God at least one of our elected officials is standing up and looking out for the Loudoun public at large. It is a shame that none of our elected ‘conservatives’ on the BOS, have not been able to find a voice as clear as Congressman Wolf …

Dear Secretary LaHood:

I am deeply troubled by the findings released today in the interim report from the department’s Inspector General (IG) on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (WMAA) Board of Directors. I requested this audit last year and am sure you agree that the report raises significant concerns about the current board’s policies and procedures, including contracting practices, ethics and transparency. This demands immediate action.

Most egregious are the IG’s findings about MWAA’s contracting practices. The report notes that in many cases MWAA failed to even abide by its own established contracting procedures, which already fall short of industry standards. Particularly concerning are the number of sole source contracts issued. As you know, MWAA is required by law to fully compete any contract over $200,000, with limited exceptions. Yet the IG’s report states that “[d]uring the period of our review, MWAA awarded five sole source contracts that were over $200,000, but did not fall under any of MWAA’s categorical exemptions. These contract awards, which amount to $6 million, did not have Board approval.” Not only did MWAA abuse the exemptions permitted under federal law, they issued numerous contracts that failed to meet even these basic standards.

The report points out that while MWAA’s Contracting Manual says some exemptions are allowed, but “comprise only a small portion of MWAA’s contracts and their dollar value,” the IG found that the use of exemptions “has amounted to 40 percent of the Authority’s $589 million in contract awards during the period of our review.”

The rest of the letter only gets worse, the rest of it can be found here. Scott York, Ralph Buona, Shawn Williams and Matt Letourneau are hellbent on hitching us to the MWAA/WMATA plow. Please call or write to these men and try to talk some sense into them. Time is running out for Loudoun.

The proposition of having 2.6 miles of light rail track connecting Ryan Rd and Old Ox to the rest of the Silver Line is currently being considered by the BOS. It appears that support for this measure is crumbling in the face of the fiscal reality. What worries me most is the fact that this board is trying to come to a final decision in less than six months. Metro will have a larger monetary impact on Loudoun County than the CBPO. Think about that.

All this to get an estimated 12,000 riders? The report that claims this number assumes people are willing to pay for a $10-$20 round trip into Fairfax to DC. Why do this when the current bus system does the same job for a lot less? Why ride when driving costs less, but is more convenient? The price does not include the cost of parking your car at the Metro. The estimated ridership has been called into question given the reality of the cost for using the service. The ridership will be lower. We are looking a cost per rider to the tax payer that is in the thousands. Think about that.

Now, The in politics the golden rule is, “He who controls the gold, makes the rules.” How much Loudoun tax money will MWAA and WMATA have control over, if Loudoun opts-in? Loudoun will be giving up a fair amount of autonomy because the county will be on the hook to feed the Union Machine that is MWAA/WMATA. This is a lot of money for Loudouners to pay just for two periphery stations at the end of the Silver Line. The time for a Loudoun Rail has not yet arrived — and it should never yoke us to the union machine in DC.

MWAA and WMATA are organizations that do not represent the interests of Northern Virginia. They are run by union interests; 80% of metro employees are union members from Maryland and DC. The boards of these organizations force Fairfax, and the other NVA municipalities to pay more than their fair share for rail service, but these municipalities do not have much of a voice in the decision making processes. Governor McDonnell, in an interview on WMAL, lamented this fact. WMATA and MWAA cater to their DC and Maryland Unions, not to the tax payers of Northern Virginia. This is the political landscape that York is rushing us into. Why?

Currently Loudoun is on the hook for 4.8% of the $6.0B that is the price tag for Silver Line construction. The construction bonds could be in MWAA’s name. MWAA due to its poor historic handling of its finances, has a BBB credit rating. This means that they cannot secure 4% loans; the best they can get is 6%. The life time cost for servicing what would be Loudoun’s $285,000,000.00 share of these bonds is around $605,000,000.00. Lets now consider the Capital Improvement Costs that are in the neighborhood of $13.5B, what if Loudoun were saddled with 4.8% of that mountain of debt? Then add in a yearly operating budget of of around $13M. The operating budget is based on WMATA’s estimate — this organization has a poor record when it comes to all matters fiscal — the real operating budget likely will be far higher. Think about what this will do to our taxes. Now remember that MWAA and WMATA get to pump all this tax money into their general fund before it is put towards its intended use. Think about that.

This is a bad deal for Loudoun. Mr. York should know better, but he apparently does not. We are being set up to pay millions per year in order to restore the badly mismanaged MWAA budget. Even the original loans for metro, still have not been fully retired. We are seen as a cash cow by DC and MD Unions; a cash cow that is to be milked for all it is worth. All this just to get 2.6 miles of rail into one corner of the county. York claims this is needed to reduce traffic congestion, when the studies show it will do no such thing. The plan makes no sense Chairman York, why are you pushing us into this?

Who would of thunk it?  What bothers me is the party-line politics.  Dems want more money for teaching and health care (duh) as well more money for Dulles Rail.  The problem seemed to be to stave off higher tolls (which pay for transportation) so not to enrage the using public.  Isn’t that how things work?  If you price a service too much, people won’t use the service which, in turn, means you must come down to earth and make reasonable steps for a happy medium.  In other words–reign in reckless spending.  Every extraction avenue has its tipping point.  Same with Loudoun taxpayers having to pony up for this ridiculous Dulles Rail non-usage scam that is being shoved down our throats by an inept and unseeing BOS.  Oh, and the Dem congress in Richmond wanted more committee assignments.  Just like they gave the GOP the last couple of elections.  What a bunch of cry babies.

My issue stands with these “party politic” lines.  Cliques, like in school where you have the over achievers, cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, etc.  Cliques stagnate everything.  Where are those free thinkers that don’t care what others think but are comfortable with their beliefs and faith.  The black sheep of the flock (not necessarily a bad thing) that stand out BECAUSE it isn’t about belonging or being pressured by the group but it is about individual beliefs.  How can that be injected back into political positions?  You know, true civil servants that see the aspect and duty of their appointment?

We have a budget.  Great.  Politicking for the next election is always an ongoing process.  We have new talking points for/against a party.  More mud, innuendo, lies, disparity.  Term limits, limited sessions, reduction in pay, prohibitions of post all seem to be things that need to come of age so we don’t have the same horseshit year after year after year.  And it needs to start at both ends of the spectrum-federal and local-so it will end in the middle; state.  And I do believe the state has the most burden, mantle of importance, and rights of them all.  Oh, sorry.  I left out HOA’s!  I’m truly laughing hard here.

Why is Loudoun County considering spending a fortune on rail? Proponents claim it will bring business to our county. But at what cost? What will happen to property taxes? How much debt will Loudoun incur? What is Loudoun’s part in subsidizing WMATA? These questions cannot be answered yet as the needed information, for an informed decision, does not yet exist.

The eye-popping figure of $2.5B to $3.5B is the price for a commuter line to Loudoun with stations at Dulles Airport, Old Ox Rd. and Ryan Rd which is only Part II of the program.

Who currently owns properties that will benefit most from these public infrastructure upgrades? Moorefield Station will be zoned for 1500 units without rail. With rail, it will be zoned for 6000 units. The people of Loudoun are being used to finance these capital improvements. Normally a tax district for such public works is established so that those who benefit the most will bear some of the burden directly. York and some on the BOS prefer instead to cut from one program so that he can the throw this venture’s costs onto the back of the Loudoun taxpayer. The figure may grow if union set asides are not rejected. Yet, with all these unanswered questions and no tax district, Chairman York claims this is good for Loudoun?

The debt service for WMATA is currently unknown. Wolf has called for an audit, the report is due in May. York is resolved to give WMATA Loudoun’s buy-in by July despite not knowing what will be our share of this debt burden or its size? The MD-DC-VA Metro system is 35 years old, it is falling apart, the reports of escalators failing and trains breaking down are but the tip of the iceberg. The BOS does not know the overhaul cost of the system. The BOS should not sign on until after the price tag has been explained and the public been given time to determine if the service is worth the price. On April 17th WMATA makes a presentation at 7PM to the BOS to address some, but not all of the issues. Public input follows in May and a vote has to happen by July? The rush is reminiscent of the CBPO boondoggle, where York jumped ship.

If Loudoun has to raise $300M in bonds to pay for its share of the Silver Line costs, it will cost $17M per year to service the bond, assuming a 30-year bond at 5%. Such a bond would lead to a two cent hike in the property tax. The total price tag could be far higher. Currently bond service is divorced from ridership for all of Metro. With a population of 310,000, Loudoun does not have enough potential rail commuter demand to justify all these potential expenses. Currently, Fairfax subsidizes the cost of the rail lines to the tune of $0.58 for every dollar spent. Given Fairfax has 1.1M people, it is likely the Loudoun subsidy will need to be far higher. York, who claims this is a good idea, has not yet exercised proper due diligence in this matter. MD-DC-VA-Metro rail has been a money pit since its inception. How is Loudoun’s joining that failed venture a good idea? How is an increased tax burden going to bring business to Loudoun?

Driving the Dulles Toll road, you can see office buildings on both sides of the road from Tysons to Reston to Herndon. Loudoun has become the bedroom community for Fairfax. The Dulles corridor was built up without the help of a rail line. In Reston town center you will find bus stops, but no train station. Rail is coming to Reston and Herndon. First came the roads, then the office buildings, the town center business parks and the restaurants and shops to service these enterprises. Then comes the rail. This robust development is the result of professional community planning that is logical, has vision, and adds the most expensive elements once there is a business base in place to shoulder the cost.

We are 20 years behind Fairfax because, under Chairman York, the BOS’s engaged in unprofessional and unpredictable community planning. First came the homes without roads. Then came the Democrat-dominated board in 2007, that was actively hostile to business. These Democrats were publicly endorsed by Chairman York. This last board raised business taxes, resulting in a loss of businesses in Loudoun. With the business community collapsing, the York protegees decided that the most pressing business was to enact the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance? Today you can see where the Fairfax County border is on VA28 and US50 very clearly. It is where the office buildings and business parks suddenly end. Such is the legacy of York’s leadership the past 12+ years as Chairman of the BOS.

Will York stop the current rush to Rail? First Loudoun needs some solid community planning, a business friendly climate, and a professional, predictable process for business development. When the Greenway from Dulles to Leesburg begins to resemble the Toll Road corridor between Reston and Herndon, and when VA28 north of Dulles has the office density that one sees in Chantilly, then it will be time to consider Metro rail. Right now, Mr. York, that consideration is still years away.

Don’t miss the Lovettsville “Get to Know Metro” Townhall Meeting at the fire hall this next Wednesday, April 11th, at 7:00 p.m – 9 p.m.

What Metro Means to Loudoun

This is very important. The Board of Supervisors will decide soon on whether or not to make an open-ended financial commitment to Metro and if they decide to go ahead, it is final.

The purpose of these meetings will be to encourage the public to get informed and learn how to let their voice be heard before the votes are cast at the beginning of July 2012.

The presentation and discussion will focus on these questions:

1. How would Metro to Loudoun affect our communities?

2. What are the costs and benefits of bringing Metro to Loudoun and where will the money come from to pay for it?

The meeting will be sponsored by Loudoun Taxpayers for Accountable Government.

The meeting will include a panel consisting of people from the local community who will share what they have learned about the proposed project.

Meeting details:

Lovettsville Fire Hall

7:00 – 9:00 Wednesday April 11th

Located on the left side of Route 287 as you approach Lovettsville from the south

Link to the LTM announcement of this Meeting is here.

Update: WMATA Groping Poster

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted on a $1.75 billion budget for FY 2013 last night by a vote of 7-2, with Supervisors Delgaudio and Volpe opposing.

It is time to put the quasi-Goldilocks question to the new tax rate of $1.235 per $100 assessed value here in Loudoun – too much, too little or just right? This rate represents a $200 per household average savings.

Of note – look where we were in 2010 (under the former democrat controlled Board) during the height of the real estate decline:

Five years of Loudoun property taxes
County real property tax rate per $100 assessed value
2008 – $1.140
2009 – $1.245
2010 – $1.300
2011 – $1.285
2012 – $1.235