School of Public Policy Co-Sponsors Transportation Tax Referendum Forum

Posted: September 30, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Local experts on transportation and the economy will discuss the transportation sales tax referendum that will appear on the ballot Nov. 5 and what it means for Arlington and the rest of Northern Virginia in a forum held tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association at 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Room CC-2, in Arlington, across from the Ballston Common Mall at Taylor Street.

The Transportation Tax Referendum Forum is co-sponsored by the School of Public Policy, the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, the League of Women Voters of Arlington, and the American Association of University Women. Two panels will present both sides of the debate. Advocates of the referendum include Albert Eisenberg of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Stephen Fuller, professor of public policy at George Mason. Opponents of the referendum include Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Ed Risse, principal of SYNERGY/Planning Inc. Kenneth Button, School of Public Policy, will moderate the panels.

Passage of the referendum would authorize the newly created Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to issue debt in a principal amount not exceeding $2.8 billion for specified transportation projects and to pay the interest and principal of such debt with the additional sales tax revenues. The tax could raise $130 million a year to finance a total of $5 billion in bonds over 20 years. Advocates say the tax will improve the quality of life in Northern Virginia by making existing jobs more accessible, enhancing air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and allowing families to spend more time together. Opponents agree that transportation is critical to sustainability and quality of life, but argue that approving the referendum would throw money at a problem without addressing the fundamental issues of land-use planning and sprawl.

The forum is open to the public, and time will be allowed for questions from the audience. Free parking is available for those who arrive by 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the League of Women Voters of Arlington at (703) 522-8196.

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