In a vote that some officials welcome as a victory for the county's economic development efforts, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted Monday a resolution of intent to reduce the personal property tax on aircraft from $1.50 per $100 assessed value to 1 cent per $100 assessed value.
"We're very pleased," Kathleen Bocek, chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee, said of the board's vote. "There are big, major corporations that want to locate at Dulles but with that tax, they wouldn't."
The Chamber of Commerce, which began a lobbying effort earlier this year to have the tax repealed, has pointed to the tax as an impediment to economic development at Dulles International and Leesburg Municipal airports.
County officials believe the tax reduction would enhance Loudoun's chances to attract major corporations looking for a base for their aircraft.
June Bachtell, Loudoun's director of economic development, said she hopes to see fewer actions such as Piedmont Airline's decision to locate its base at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where there is no personal property tax on aircraft.
The tax reduction is needed, she said, "to look like there's even a hope of a hub airport at Dulles. If they based here, that's a whole other bag."
Vincent Rivellese, vice president of the Washington-Dulles task force, said 7,300 jobs are generated by Dulles airport and by airport-related business. More than 98 percent of these jobs are held by people living in Loudoun County and the Dulles area, he said.
Citing an economic impact study not yet completed, Rivellese said Dulles Airport's economic impact on the county and the surrounding area including the metropolitan area, is now approximately $468 million per year.
It is part of that revenue that Leesburg Supervisor Frank Raflo, one of the tax reduction's strongest supporters on the board, hopes to draw into Loudoun.
"If you have one major company, what it will spend in placing its planes at Dulles will almost make up for what we're losing," Raflo said. The county expects to take in about $106,000 this year from the aircraft tax.
The purpose of the reduction is "not to benefit a particular segment of the economy," Raflo said, but to "generate additional revenue that will benefit all the taxpayers."
Blue Ridge supervisor James F. Brownell, explaining his support for reducing the tax rate, pointed out that Loudoun County taxes farm machinery and livestock at the rate of 1 cent per $100 assessed value.
A final decision on the tax reduction will not be made until next year. Because all eight supervisor seats will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, the decision would fall to a new board of supervisors.
Political observers indicate that should the new board decide to make the reduction part of its budget deliberations next spring, the new tax rate could go into effect next July.