Posts belonging to Category VRE



Watch as VRE and its 2% gas tax increase sneak in the back door.

Oh, look, there it goes.

I dun warn you all ’bout this already.

On December 10, 2007, The Free Lance–Star reported that Caroline County had received a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation “to study building a passenger rail station in the Carmel Church area.”

In the story, a VRE spokesman said the following about Caroline County joining VRE: “It is a doable option”.

To join VRE, the County is required by the Code of Virginia to impose a 2% gas tax (§ 58.1-1720).

On February 18, 2008, I pointed out that the county had received $490,000 from a federal earmark for a “Commuter Rail Station at Carmel Church, VA”.

Well, this week, Rob Wittman released his earmark requests and lo and behold an additional earmark for $800,000 for a “Carmel Church Multimodal TOD Commuter Rail Project”.

UPDATE: Gary Wilson at the Department of Economic Development requested the $800,000 after “consultation with the Board of Supervisors” according to an email. Percy Ashcraft (the County Administrator) has yet to answer my e-mail (sent May 2nd, at 5:44 a.m.) asking if they are in the process of negotiating with VRE.

END UPDATE

Are any of use stupid enough to believe that the county is going to turn down $1,390,000? Those earmarks can only be used for what they’re specified for (hence the name “earmark”).

Right now, gas is costing $3.49 or so. $0.38 are federal and state tax. That makes the base price $3.11 ($3.49 – $0.38 = $3.11). The VRE gas tax would increase the cost of gas by $0.06 (3.11 * 0.02 (2%) = $0.0622). ON EVERY GALLON. An additional 6 cents of cost on every gallon of gasoline.

Cui bono? (Good for whom?)

According to the VRE’s 2006 Passenger Survey Results, there were only 49 people in Caroline County that rode VRE in 2006 (VRE [PDF]). That is less than two tenths of one percent (0.19%) of the population of Caroline County.

Did they request something like hand-held biometric units for the Sheriff’s Office like Spotsylvania County? No.

Did they request money to improve emergency radio communications like Stafford County? No.

Did they request money for equipment for police vehicles like Prince William County? No.

Did they request money to improve broadband service like the Eastern Shore, the Northern Neck, and the Middle Peninsula are going to get? No.

Instead of requesting money for something that would improve everyone in Caroline County, they want money for something that will help 0.19% of the population.

Meanwhile, everyone will be paying 6 cents (at $3.49 per gallon) more for every gallon of gas with the amount of tax increasing every time the price of gas goes up. This after they already raised real estate tax rates by $50/$100,000.

Hooray.

Addendum: What affect would this have on county services? Public safety organizations are not exempt from the tax.

In 2006, the Sheriff’s Office drove 1,006,997 miles in patrol. A 2008 Ford Crown Victoria gets a combined estimated 18 miles per gallon. That means the Sheriff’s Office purchased approximately 55,944 (1,006,997 / 18 = 55944.277 repeating) gallons in fuel. At current prices in gas, the new tax would increase the money they pay for fuel by $3,356. That’s just the increased cost the tax would have (i.e. it doesn’t include the cost of rising fuel prices [which would further increase the tax]).

Further, what affect would this have on fire and rescue equipment that gets even less miles per gallon?

End Addendum.

Am I the only one that thinks this smells fishy?

On December 10, 2007, The Free Lance–Star reported that Caroline County had received a $100,000 grant (hey, I found more money for a full-time Commonwealth’s Attorney!) from the Virginia Department of Transportation to “study building a passenger rail station in the Carmel Church area”. Further, The Free Lance–Star reported:

To join Virginia Railway Express, Caroline would have to become a member of a transportation commission and levy a 2 percent gas tax.

On December 26, 2007 President George Bush signed the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008“, which contains an earmark by the late Representative Jo Anne Davis in the amount of $490,000 for a “Commuter Rail Station at Carmel Church, VA”.

Now, I see this going down one of two ways:

  1. “Well, the study says we need VRE and what great timing since we have $490,000 from the federal government to pay for a rail station. Frankly, we don’t care what you [the citizens] have to say about the gas tax!”
  2. “The study says we don’t need VRE but we can’t turn this $490,000 down! I don’t care if you [the citizens] don’t like the gas tax or not! We are getting VRE!”

One current supervisor has stated: “I did not and will not support a gas tax.” Gut check time.


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