Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tax raised on hybrid cars; aircraft rate unchanged

The tax on hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles is going up.

The Board of Supervisors voted 7-2 Feb. 3 to raise the current rate on those vehicles from 1 cent per $100 assessed value to $1. The new rate is still $3.20 less than traditional auto owners pay in the county.

The penny tax rate was set to promote the purchase of more environmentally friendly transportation, said Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge).

“We don't need to incentivize these vehicles,” he said. “The market has taken care of that.”

Before the vote, Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) asked that the board consider raising the tax on alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids to match that on regular cars.

Chairman Scott York (I-at large), who seconded Delgaudio's substitute motion, said the county is subsidizing people who are getting better mileage.

“That's not fair,” he said.

Delgaudio's motion failed.

The rate increase will generate about $600,000 a year, according to county staff.

The annual tax bill on a car assessed at $20,000 will increase from $2 a year to $200 a year. Those paying the $4.20 rate on a traditional $20,000 car pay $840 a year.


Meanwhile, the tax on aircraft housed in the county will stay the same.

The board on Feb. 3 voted 8-1, with Delgaudio against, to keep that rate unchanged.

During a board meeting in January, board members were visited by local airport officials and aviation enthusiasts, urging members not to raise the aircraft tax.

Tom Toth, of the Leesburg Airport Commission, quantified the potential loss of income if the tax was raised.

“We have at least $100 million in economic benefit between Leesburg and Dulles [airports],” Toth said. “All we need, at a quarter [tax rate], is 1 percent of the aircraft to leave, and we will totally negate what that 25 cents would bring in.”

Board members who voted for maintaining the tax rate agreed that the losses far outweighed the benefits to the tax base in this case.

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