The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider Monday scheduling a $125 million transportation bond referendum for November, according to a county staff report.
Passage of such a referendum by voters would guarantee funding for part of the Fairfax County Parkway (formerly the Springfield Bypass) should a previously approved financing plan, using revenue bonds, unexpectedly collapse or be significantly delayed.
If the original financing plan proceeds without a hitch, the board could direct the $125 million to other transportation needs -- a tempting prospect in a local election year -- or cancel the November referendum.
The transportation plan is one of seven fall bond referendums that the board is scheduled to consider Monday. Also on the table are $169 million for schools, up to $112 million for public safety and maintenance facilities, up to $30 million for human services and up to $52 million for housing.
The board hopes to fashion a bond package of between $273 million and $394 million.
According to the staff report, money from a voter-approved transportation bond will be needed to complete the parkway if the revenue bond plan is declared illegal or runs into other snags. Under the revenue bond proposal, which does not require voter approval, up to $330 million in bonds could be sold by an independent commission to finish the parkway, and the county would pay off the bonds with tax revenue.
The 35-mile parkway, which will run outside the Capital Beltway from Route 1 to Route 7, is the county's top transportation priority, but seven stretches totaling 23.5 miles are unfinished.
The staff report is sure to set off political fireworks at Monday's board meeting. Republican Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III (Mason) said he will renew his argument that the county should not pursue the revenue bond plan, which Board Chairman Audrey Moore (D) considers one of the most important accomplishments of her first term, without putting it to the voters.
"The precedent here is a disaster," said Davis, who is expected to challenge Moore for chairman next year. "This is the largest bond in county history, and we're not getting voter approval."
Davis added that advocates originally pushed the revenue bond proposal because it could provide a quick infusion of road money, but with the potential for a protracted legal battle "now it's not only more expensive, but it's not faster, so why do it?"
Although Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Middleton ruled June 7 that the revenue bond plan is legal, he has delayed signing an order to that effect. In the meantime, opponents of the plan, led by anti-tax crusaders Frederick and Marcia Dykes, of Great Falls, have filed additional legal memos that Middleton has said he would consider. A hearing is set for July 12.