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Bowser Proposes Commercial Property Tax Hike To Fund Metro

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser speaking at Bisnow's affordable housing event.

As D.C., Maryland and Virginia make progress toward a permanent funding agreement for Metro, Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed specific ways the District can come up with its share of the money. 

In her Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal released Wednesday, Bowser calls for increases on commercial property tax, sales tax and ride-sharing taxes, the Washington Business Journal reports

Bowser's proposal would raise the tax on commercial properties worth over $3M by two cents, bringing it from $1.85 per $100 of assessed value to $1.87. For a $100M building, this would raise its tax bill by $19,400. 

The proposal calls for a sales tax increase of 0.25 percentage points, bringing it from 5.75% to 6%, the same rate as suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. Bowser also proposed a 3.75 percentage point increase on ride-sharing vehicles like Uber and Lyft. For a $5 ride, this would bring the tax from five cents to just under a quarter. 

These taxes would make up about 45% of the $178.5M D.C. would dedicate to Metro each year, with the rest coming from existing funds. Virginia and Maryland this month have also taken significant steps toward securing permanent funding for Metro, with each of those states contributing about $150M per year. The regional collaboration on the critical transportation issue comes as each jurisdiction is competing for Amazon HQ2, and some experts think reaching a solution on Metro funding could boost the region's chances.

Bowser's budget proposal also called for a more aggressive timeline for the construction of a $300M hospital at the St. Elizabeths campus. The $55M in funding she is seeking over the next two years would allow the city to complete the Southeast D.C. hospital by 2023, at least a year earlier than previously planned.