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Fairfax looks to meals tax to fatten transportation budget

Sunday - 2/26/2012, 12:14pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Would you pay more to eat dinner if the extra money would help ease your commute?

Fairfax County is again considering a 4 percent tax on meals at restaurants to help raise money for transportation.

Supervisor Pat Herrity says Fairfax County needs $3 billion dollars to meet transportation demands over the next decade, but a meals tax is not the answer.

"It's failed twice before and I don't see the sentiment changed", says Herrity.

Voters rejected the tax on meals in a 1992 referendum and the Board of Supervisors rejected it again in 2010.

To impose a meals tax to raise an estimated $80 million a year, Fairfax County needs either approval from the General Assembly which is unlikely in the current anti-tax climate in Richmond, or a "Yes" vote in a referendum of voters.

Herrity says time is running out to raise money for several key transportation projects. They include the second phase of Metro expansion to Dulles International Airport and upgrading roads around Tysons Corner to handle the downtown, high density type of development that the county is aiming for.

"We've got ourselves backed into a corner," says Herrity. He says developers should be paying for more of the necessary transportation improvements.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)