For Ken Reid, it’s time to decide, base or bounty?
Ken Reid is positioned in the eyes of many a metro-watcher as the last frontier, the ultimate swing vote for all to watch, wonder and wait. Many thought that he was firmly against metro, but the last few weeks have been revealing and a lot has come to light. Now it appears that he is poised to be the fifth vote for metro. I have been gobsmacked by the news since Ken is one of the smartest board members and he KNOWS the facts. He KNOWS the harm that will come to Loudoun if we opt in and he knows the money that will come INTO Loudoun if we don’t.
Poised as such puts Ken smack dab in the middle of the attention.
A lot of attention comes to one so positioned, some positive, some negative, but all to be considered as part of the grand-scheme.
It has been no secret among those watching closely that the promised goodies are-a-plenty from the cash-rich opt-in crowd, the bounty building exponentially as the days loom closer to the final vote.
But will Reid take the bait and ditch his long-entreanched conservative base for the here-today-gone-tomorrow developer crowd? Reid, already vulnerable, will certainly be a one-termer if he opts against the base. His base, many of whom have shared all metro conversations with him, along with private emails, will not be amused, and will never trust him again. More than one have vowed to fight against him in any campaign, if he betrays them on this vote.
Ken knows that the new, purple, omeba, tax district that Shawn Williams proposed at the last BOS work session cannot fund metro. He knows that the district won’t even come close to providing enough money to pay for metro, particularly since no one lives there now. I hear staff is redoing their projections to make it appear that the omeba district will take in more money than they projected last week. A map of the omeba purple district can be found here on page 10. Project tax revenues for that district are on the next page. Even in 2025, at the top rate of 21 cents in new taxes, it doesn’t come close to yearly funding of metro, projected to be somewhere between $16 million and $60 million. But staff has been instructed to provide better figures before their work session on Friday, the 29th, at 5:00. Last week they said that district could only fund metro if the tax rate was set at 43 cents. Matt Letourneau immediately said that would not happen, no district could be taxed at additional tax that high. Fairfax tax rates are here. Their tax rate is so much lower than our’s, $1.235 per hundred of assessed value in Loudoun and only $1.075 in Fairfax! And the max on their special districts is .022! We can’t get enough from the special district at that rate to pay for ALL metro ongoing costs.
Ken is also aware that this is very unlikely that this special tax district will ever happen. First, they need a change in the state law. Only Fairfax has established special tax districts to fund a subway, after special permission from the state. The law says that only counties with over 500,000 residents can establish these districts. Next, 51% of landowners in that district must sign a petition stating that agree to being in the district and to paying higher taxes. There must also be public hearings. Staff told the board this process would take several weeks to accomplish, at least 3. Obviously that can’t be done prior to their vote on July 3rd. Will they accomplish it after they vote for phase II? It’s a long shot, and they all know it. At that point, we’re stuck with metro. When the board finally admits that they can only pay for metro with a general tax increase, it will be too late. Ken’s a very smart guy, he knows all of this.
On phase II, Ken Reid has been the most informed member on the board of supervisors. He knows the history of WMATA and MWAA, better than anyone. One of his friends, who has done extensive research on the Silver Line, is the well known World Bank transportation Economist, Gabriel Roth. Mr. Roth has studied subway systems around the world for decades. He has written several papers on the Silver Line phase II, showing it fails on all levels. Ken has tremendous respect for the work of Gabriel Roth and has believed his conclusions that this project will cost Loudoun county over a billion dollars while solving none of our transportation problems.
In addition to all of that, Ken knows that phase II will cost the town of Leesburg $1 million a year when the gas tax revenue goes to fund metro. Have the 4 metro supporters promised Ken that they will make up that money from general revenue (our tax dollars)? Where will that money come from each year? Will it be added to the metro tax increases? I feel sorry for the people of the town of Leesburg who stand to lose a million a year, AND have to pay the additional metro taxes along with the rest of us, AND pay their town taxes. The same will be true for those who live in Purcellville. Ken will be unable to protect Leesburg citizens from general tax increases to pay for metro.
So why would Ken Reid suddenly flip on metro, abandon his base, and ignore the experts? Why would a supervisor who is this brilliant and well informed, vote for metro? Is the bounty more important than the base? So it would appear. I hate to see it, because I would hate to see Ken commit political suicide with an opt in vote. We need supervisors who are as smart as Ken. All citizens benefit from his service on our board, but if he is the swing vote for metro, he won’t have a chance to be more than a one term wonder.