The proposed local sales tax to help finance Metro operations in Northern Virginia ran into trouble at a legislative committee hearing today, prompting more than one of its supporters to predict that the measure will not make it to the full House of Delegates this year.

Despite emotional pleas from many of the Northern Virginia legislators and local officials who testified in favor of the measure, a majority of the 20-member House Finance Committee has yet to be persuaded to support a 1-cent increase in the sales tax to support Metro, according to several sources.

"What is really at stake here is the completion of the system," argued State Sen. Omer L. Hirst (D-Fairfax), chief patron of the bill. He said the measure, already approved by the Senate, would raise about $38 million in revenue that could be used to finish construction of about 30 remaining miles in the 100-mile system. He said about 57 percent of the unfinished milage is located in Virginia.

Del. Norman Sisisky (D-Petersburg) voiced a concern shared by other committee members and Republican Gov. John N. Dalton that special sales tax legislation for Northern Virginia is a bad policy for the state. He said other parts of the state also would want to impose such a tax.

Under the Metro tax proposal, voters in all three cities and both counties served by the transit system would have to approve imposition of the tax in their localities before it could become effective in any of them.