Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Small Business Uprising?

Seems Alexandria's small businesses are rising up in protest against the City's newly-acquired ability to start imposing higher real estate taxes on business and commercial property. (The General Assembly recently passed legislation that permits local jurisdictions to set separate rates for residential and commercial property.) The increased in tax revenue is expected to be earmarked for transportation projects.

The ringleader in the revolt is the Alexandria Taxpayers Union, which recently launched an online petition that has garnered 176 signatures, including some heavyhitters in the business community.

But even bigger guns have now fired a shot in protest. The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has officially weighed in against a possible tax increase for businesses.

The Growler wonders if there would be even more opposition if the business community knew just how much the City's proposed transportation corridors will cost.

The City's own estimate for its overall transportation needs ranges from $678 to $978 million.

But the draft Master Transportation Plan chapter on funding notes capital costs for transporation just for the three corridors it identified — including the controversial Patrick-Henry Street route in our neighborhood — could range from $115 to $165 million for bus rapid transit (BRT), while light rail could cost the City from $460 to $665 million.

Add the two new infill Metro stations recently proposed by Councilmen Rob Krupicka and Justin Wilson, which are now priced at between $130 and $150 million each, and the final price tag could conceivably reach nearly $1 billion. Recurring annual operating costs for these transportation improvements could run from $81 to $95 million per year.