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Big VRE payout due for Spotsylvania. The county will soon start forking out $3.5 million in deferred VRE payments. That's OK, the county still has several million dollars saved up to pay that debt and to handle transportation projects
Gas-tax revenue has been used to fix several Spotsylvania thoroughfares, including two spots along Mine Road.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY SCOTT SHENK
When Spotsylvania supervisors decided in 2010 that the county would become a member of the Virginia Railway Express commuter train service, the county was allowed to defer subsidy payments for a set time.
The time to pay has now arrived.
In July, the county will begin making payments on $3.5 million it owes to be a commuter rail member.
The payout covers a combination of deferred and annual subsidies. The deferred payments go to VRE's five other jurisdictions, including Fredericksburg and Stafford, which have essentially been covering Spotsylvania's membership dues for the last two years.
The regular, annual fiscal year 2013 subsidy accounts for nearly $1.2 million of Spotsylvania's total bill.
Being a member of VRE, and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, comes with a price. Even so, all but one of the five other member jurisdictions pocket millions from the 2.1 percent gas tax collected from distributors.
A chunk of the gas-tax money covers the membership with VRE and PRTC, and the rest can be used to pay for transportation work.
Spotsylvania already had collected several million dollars more than it needed for the upcoming payoff, said Doug Barnes, Spotsylvania's county administrator.
The county also will take in more than expected in gas tax revenue this fiscal year, said Al Harf, PRTC's executive director. That's because gas taxes from previous years were accidentally sent to Fredericksburg due to a ZIP code mix-up, and that money--about $1 million--is now being returned to Spotsylvania.
The county could get even more money if an ongoing audit discovers more mistakes.
Regardless of whether the county gets more of the old tax money, Harf figured Spotsylvania's gas-tax revenue would total between $4 million and $5 million this fiscal year.
The county recently used more than $1 million of its gas-tax revenue to pay for use of FREDericksburg Regional Transit buses and to pay off debt on several road projects, including paving and intersection reconstruction projects.
Gary Skinner, a member of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors and VRE board, said the revenue has helped "do projects for everybody. It doesn't matter where you live or whether you ride VRE or not."
The Virginia Railway Express gas tax has helped Spotsylvania pay for numerous transportation projects, including work on these five intersections.
Mine Road and Lansdowne Road (ongoing)
Smith Station Road and Piedmont Drive (ongoing)
Mine Road, Hardwood Lane and Campbell Drive
Gordon Road and Chancellor Road
Harrison Road, Kingswood Boulevard and Beauclaire Boulevard