Tax increase recommended for roads

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads lawmakers recommended a one percent tax increase in Hampton Roads to go toward road and highway improvements on Thursday.

Del. Chris Stolle and Sen. Jeff McWaters have proposed the legislation to the General Assembly.  If the legislation is passed in Richmond, a referendum will be placed on the November 2013 ballot.  Stolle and McWaters say the tax increase could create as much as $195 million a year for the potential transportation fund.

"If the voters turn it down, I'm really concerned that we are going to see tolls on everything there has to be funded somewhere," Stolle said. "There is no magic pot of money that's going to fund roads in Hampton Roads. We have to fund it some way."

Stolle and McWaters say this tax increase and fund would not stop the tolls from coming to the downtown and midtown tunnels in January 2014.  In theory, the fund could be used to reduce some of the toll debt.  The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization will determine where and how the money will be spent.  Stolle said the HRTPO can designate the money to go to any transportation improvements.

Document: Transportation referendum

Stolle told there may not be a decision from the General Assembly until this February.  If voters say yes to the referendum next November, the sales tax increase would go into effect in January 2014. asked Hampton Roads voters how they feel about the potential tax increase for transportation.

Norfolk resident, Jason Kent said, "Coming up with a mass transportation solution that works really well is a worthy endeavor.  But, I have mixed feelings about increasing taxes."

Another resident, Linda Dechaine said, "My concern, and the caveat would be, the accountability of exactly where that one percent is going to, and who is spending it, who is allocating it, and who is monitoring it."



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