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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA

Transportation Add-On Tax on Commercial Real Estate

The Proposal to Fund Alexandria's Priority Transportation Projects is being conducted by the City of Alexandria for the purpose of identifying and implementing near and long term projects that have the most economic benefit to businesses within the City of Alexandria.

Your thoughts and input are important to this process and will help shape the development of the City's plan.

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11 Comments

Every business which is directly related to economy of country also include several other aspects which can affects its growth in country like tax issues and several other taxes imparted over it. These taxes are imparted on the business so that it will provide growth rather than its downfall.
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MarcusFlorence (287) | User | February 3, 2012 - 12:20 AM

I hope our City Council will vote to support transit, walking, and bicycling in Alexandria. The proposed add-on to commercial property tax was authorized by Virginia to allow localities to raise their own transportation funds. It has long-since been implemented in Arlington and Fairfax. This proposal will allow us to use local funds to build three critical transit corridors (US-1, Duke St, Beauregard St), two of which could connect to the streetcar system that is being developed in Arlington. The time to act is now--let us not become the only area near Washington DC that depends only on Metro for dedicated mass transit.

I support this proposal because both our citizens and our economy benefit when we shift our transportation focus from automobiles to people.

Please join me to support transit at www.change.org/petitions/support-biking-in-alexandria-va

Jonathan Krall (33) | User | April 15, 2011 - 7:12 PM

An add-on tax to commercial real estate in Alexandria would be substantially detrimental to businesses in the community. Businesses in the West End are already suffering and an additional tax would on those that own real estate might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I have heard that Macy's and Sears own the land at Landmark Mall. It seems as though those stores are already suffering since mall traffic is virtually non-existent. I could not imagine what would happen to the Landmark area if those stores pulled out.

Nicholas Gehrig (196) | User | February 22, 2011 - 10:52 AM

I am writing in opposition to the proposed add-on tax on commercial real estate. As a small business owner, I feel this tax would unfairly burden our city's small businesses. Please look for other creative ways to support our important transportation projects.

Suzanne Caldwell, resident (195) | User | February 19, 2011 - 4:42 PM

February 9, 2010

RE: Proposed Commercial Add-on Tax

Dear Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Council Members,

We represent nearly 860 businesses in Alexandria. We urge you to protect our businesses and promote economic growth by rejecting any increase in the commercial property tax.

We believe this tax is not right for Alexandria.

We are different than our neighbors, Arlington and Fairfax County. We agree that Alexandria must be a party to such a regional transportation system in concert with our neighbors to alleviate traffic congestion, to introduce new modes of eco-friendly transit and to foster future growth to and along commercial corridors.

However, we are unlike our neighbors who have many large, national and international corporations to help shoulder the burden of transportation costs. Our business tax base is predominantly comprised of small, locally owned and operated businesses that subsist on narrow profit margins. Over 90% of the City’s 9,000+ businesses have fewer than 20 employees. To expect small business owners to bear tax burdens in a manner similar to the way our neighbors tax their businesses is unrealistic. It is also potentially crippling to the businesses that foster the unique charm we have in Alexandria which is craved by residents and promoted by the City.

Commercial properties also make up a smaller portion of our tax base- relative to residential properties- about 45% of the total number of parcels in Alexandria. And when you remove apartments (since this tax won’t apply to them), the percentage is much smaller. Instead of harming the small businesses that make up our commercial tax base, we ask you to focus on expanding our tax base through thoughtful development and diversifying business uses so that there is an adequate complement of larger businesses that can then pay their proportionate, larger share of taxes. Imposing a commercial add-on tax now will merely hurt existing businesses and discourage new businesses from relocating to Alexandria.

We ask you to consider seizing the opportunity to market our City as a tax haven for businesses and a more attractive option to locate a business as compared to our neighbors.

We also believe this tax is inequitable.

We understand that transportation improvements, in the form of roadway improvement projects, new public transit systems and roadway maintenance, represent one of the most critical needs facing the City. We support these improvements and we are willing to pay our fair share. However, funding these needs cannot be borne solely by the business community.

Transportation is a core public service provided by the City. It is well-established that commercial properties require substantially less services from the City than do residential properties. Yet under the City’s current taxing structure, commercial and residential properties are taxed at an equal rate. Thus, commercial property owners pay proportionately equal taxes for fewer services than residential property owners. Residents and businesses alike will benefit from transportation improvements, and thus, the funding of such improvements should result from a uniform tax rate.

Finally, we believe this tax is not the only tool available to the City to fund transportation improvements.

The Chamber recognizes the City’s need to generate sufficient revenue to solve its transportation problems. However, the imposition of a commercial add-on tax cannot be supported by Alexandria’s small business base. Rather, transportation improvements should be funded through general fund revenue or through localized tax districts that raise funds for transportation improvements in connection with new developments.

You have established a precedent for dedicated funds raised through the general real estate tax base in its creation of an open space fund. A similar dedicated allocation of general revenue funding may be established for transportation infrastructure improvements. You also have the ability to issue general obligation bonds to fund transportation improvement projects. As a supplement to this dedicated revenue source, there are the funding options implemented in conjunction with the North Potomac Yard Plan, in which special tax districts create an additional dedicated revenue stream.

Care needs to be taken, however, to ensure that we avoid the overlay of too many tax alternatives. Imposing special tax districts then also increasing the overall tax rate and imposing other particular fees would be unduly burdensome and would discourage growth and development.

We ask you to please consider these points carefully and protect our businesses by refusing to impose the commercial add-on tax.

Sincerely,



The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce
Tina Leone
President/CEO

Tina Leone (194) | User | February 9, 2011 - 5:59 PM

Dear Mr. Mayor, Members of City Council,

As you may be aware, I, and many others, have opposed the imposition of a Piggyback Tax on Alexandria Commercial Properties for some time now. At this point, you have likely heard the debate numerous times. (It's unfair, taxes are bad for both small and large businesses in terrible economic times, live within your budget, don't use a new tax to further get into debt, etc.)

You may even recall the more than 200 Alexandrians who signed a petition against this same tax when it was previously proposed. Reference: http://www.petitiononline.com/proptaxs/petition.html

I'll suggest an additional thought for your discussions. Time and again, ever since this tax was first considered by City Council, you listened to the Community, you listened to the Chamber of Commerce, you even listened to small independent business owners like me and my wife and repeatedly rejected this unfair tax.

Nothing has changed. There is no compelling reason for you to change your past position on this issue. This tax is bad for Alexandria. It was bad three years ago, it remains a bad idea today.

Please do not turn your back on hard-working Alexandrians and our business community,

Bud Miller (61) | User | February 9, 2011 - 10:29 AM

Andrea makes some interesting points.

However, the money taken from our local small business by Donley's new tax isn't going to help with her well intentioned bike-ped infrastructure.

It's going to be a "down payment" for more car centered projects and large scale mass transportation projects that are well beyond Alexandria's budget. The Donley tax is just the down payment, more taxes will follow.

Rather than helping create an interesting, green, destination location and helping our community grow, the new tax will destroy Old Town/Del Ray small businesses and attempt to provide more efficient methods to shuttle commuters through our dead urban core.

Bud Miller (61) | User | January 18, 2011 - 9:42 PM

Good transportation supports economic growth and community vitality. Alexandria is a unique community and the revenues generated by the add-on tax will support investments to ensure that Alexandria continues to be a premier community. Local and even small businesses may be well-served by a transit and bike-ped network that facilitates purchases at local businesses. I support the add-on tax, and encourage consideration of its use for on- and off-street bicycle infrastructure and accommodations. Bicycling is a regional form of transportation and recreation, requires no ongoing operating costs, and promotes affordable transportation, reduced congestion and traffic fatalities, improved health, and lower environmental impacts. Connectivity throughout the City and region makes bicycling a competitive mode. Investment in bike-ped infrastructure and accommodations is a cost effective investment in tomorrow’s fight against childhood obesity, air pollution, traffic fatalities and congestion. I encourage you to help ensure Alexandria continues to improve as a premier community for biking and walking by supporting the projects that may explicitly support bike-ped users. I also challenge you to envision how other projects that might not be “bike-ped projects” explicitly may nevertheless be designed to incorporate infrastructure and accommodations that support the safety and practicality of biking and walking in our community. It is especially important to envision how bicycles may be incorporated into the 3 high capacity corridors; Alexandria would miss a great opportunity if it excludes bicycles from those corridors. Thank you for this opportunity to engage our community in this important discussion.

Andrea (191) | User | January 14, 2011 - 10:42 AM

Kerry Donley has spent considerable time and effort over the past several months selling another tax increase he wants to impose on Alexandrians. His pitch for higher taxes to our already overtaxed citizens and businesses doesn’t appear to be selling very well. However, the time and effort he has devoted to his cause merit that everyone understands exactly what he is saying once the political hyperbole has been stripped away.
Based on Donley’s latest pitch, his argument to take more of your money can essentially be boiled down to the following points:

1. Other local governments have imposed these taxes so Alexandria should too.

This argument may remind readers of their parent’s old “If your friends jump off a bridge, would you jump too?” Just because Arlington politicians impose a new tax, doesn’t mean that the Citizens of Alexandria want their taxes raised in a similar fashion. Indeed, the nature of business owners in Arlington, which are frequently very large national and multinational corporations are very different from the unique, family owned, community supported small businesses in Alexandria. Of course, if this argument sways the other Members of City Council, who have voted against this tax in the past, it will only be logical that Alexandria adopts other local government policies, such as Loudon County’s controversial illegal immigrant policies or Arlington’s decrease in parking meter fees.

2. Donley wants to use these new taxes to float bonds and get “more bang from the buck” as other local governments have done.

Even the millions and millions of dollars Donley wants to take from the local economy isn’t enough to sate his thirst for more money. Indeed, the new taxes will merely be a down payment, as Donley wants to use them to borrow even more money and dig Alexandria even further into debt. Simply put, this is irresponsible and will likely add even more pressure in the future to both cut spending and raise even more taxes as Donley’s bills come due. Perhaps Donley has spent too much time working for big banks.

3. This is the only tool left in our toolbox.

No, it’s not. As Vice Mayor, Donley knows this is a false statement.

4. Imagine [insert your dream transportation project here]

Hopes and dreams are certainly nice, but what about the people who will lose their jobs or will have to pay higher prices due to Donley’s new taxes? How many more empty storefronts will this cause?

5. We must act NOW!

No, we don’t. Alexandria was here before cars were invented; it will be here long after Donley and his pet projects are forgotten. Indeed, the worst time to impose a drastic new tax is in bad economic times.

6. If we impose this tax on businesses, we’ll provide these same businesses with tax relief.

By definition, tax relief would entail lower taxes. It seems a bit disingenuous that a professional politician would promise a small bit of long overdue tax relief from an unfair tax at the price of imposing an entirely new and more burdensome tax. If a tax is unfair, it should be reformed because it is an unfair tax, not as a bribe.

Left out of Donley’s new tax sales pitch is that after City Council’s last tax increase, Alexandria actually has a BUDGET SURPLUS. It will be a sad, but predictable, spectacle to watch Donley and the rest of City Council exercise their magical powers and make these millions of dollars disappear overnight!

It is unfortunate that Donley, who has an extensive record in both business and the City of Alexandria, lacks the vision to develop reasonable solutions to our City’s growing challenges. His only solution to virtually every problem is to raise your taxes. He has done so year after year after year. If Donley succeeds in his push to get the other City Council Members aboard his tax train, it will only be a short time before he starts planning his next raid on your bank. The real question is how more Donley can you afford?

Bud Miller (61) | User | January 13, 2011 - 12:06 PM

Considering the fact that most of the newer development is commercial; I'd recommend the commercial real estate tax.
The DASH 3 & 4 are highly used routes and I'm glad to see you are prioritizing and even enhancing them. This morning's bus was packed full!

Diana (190) | User | January 10, 2011 - 3:19 PM