IN RICHMOND TODAY, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a local-option salestax bill that legislators, local governments and taxpayers throughout Northern Virginia consider crucial to their financial structures as well as the development of transportation in the state. It is not -- repeat, not -- a proposed "raid" on Virginia's money by any section of the state, nor does it erode any state authority. All that is sought is permission, subject to the voters' approval in all three cities and both counties served by the Metro system -- to pay for public transportation through an increase in the sales tax rather than through the property tax.

Surely members of the House committee recognize the pressures that taxpayers are feeling and telling them about throughout Virginia. In this area, the property-tax burden is the problem, and residents merely seek a go-ahead to shift some of the revenueraising to a sales tax on themselves.As for the Metro subway system, more than half of the unfinished mileage is to be in Virginia. Besides, at least one-third of the money raised by the extra sales tax could be used for other transportation projects, including road building.

Last week, the state senate approved the bill by a 30-to-10 vote. Today, sensitive members of the House committee will be voting on the question -- whether to let some localities confront their own financial problem and improve transportation in the state -- or to kill it without even a vote by the full House of Delegates. It is a reasonable and fiscally sound proposal that should be supported.