County Department of Finance: Data Center Tax Revenue Lower than Expected | News

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The Prince William County Department of Finance predicts that local tax revenue generated from a proposed new data center corridor near Manassas Battlefield National Park will be significantly lower than its proponents had anticipated.

Tim Leclerc, Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Prince William County, in a letter to the county authoritiesestimated that the proposed “PW Digital Gateway” would ultimately generate approximately $400.5 million in local tax revenue per year at current tax rates, not the $700 million estimated by project applicants.

According to Leclerc’s analysis, local tax revenue would also slowly increase, rising from about $9.8 million in its first year of operation, to $204 million in 10 years, and then to about $336.8 million. dollars in the 15th year.

But he said there are many variables. For example, if the county increased its tax on computers and peripherals by $1.50 per $100 of assessed assessment to $3.70, the local tax rate applied to other personal property, such as automobiles , the data center corridor’s annual tax revenue could eventually reach $654.1 million. But he also said that if the maximum construction occurs, the finance department should add a minimum of 11 staff for assessments, audits and inspections.

Leclerc’s calculations cast a shadow over the sun-drenched predictions of digital gateway PW proponents, who tout their plan as a way to generate significant new commercial tax revenue to pay for schools and utilities – and lower tax bills residents’ land. At a town hall meeting on the county’s data center overlay district last week, some proponents of the PW Digital Gateway seemed to think the project’s tax revenue would hit $700 million in the first year.

Battlefield, other county agencies raise concerns

The finance office’s comments were among several submitted over the past month to be considered by county officials as they grapple with whether to approve the new data center corridor. Prince William County planning staff solicited comments on the PW digital gateway comprehensive plan amendment from 22 agencies and received comments from 16, including at least two that were unsolicited.

Of the respondents, at least half — including Manassas National Battlefield Park, the county’s Watershed Management Branch, and the Virginia Department of Forestry — expressed opposition to all or part of the PW Digital Gateway app. Others, like those from the county’s finance and transport departments, questioned the claims of the Candidates, a coalition of landowners along Pageland Lane who would like to sell their collective 2,133 acres to data center developers.

On the positive side, the Prince William Service Authority has said it could add water and sewer lines to the area, although this would require further study. The PWSA noted that a planned upgrade to the Heritage Hunt sewage pumping station did not include plans for this new data corridor. Prince William’s fire marshal, meanwhile, said the development would not weigh on his operations.

Among those who expressed serious concern was county archaeologist Justin Patton. He disputes the plaintiffs’ argument that the power transmission lines along Pageland Lane have degraded the rural quality of the area, paving the way for a data center corridor. Patton says if land is replanned for data centers the effect would be much worse, as data centers have a “high potential to negatively affect cultural resources” of the rural landscape while impacting views west of the battlefield.

In a later letter, Patton, on behalf of the County Historical Commission, recommends dividing the parcel into southern and northern sections and keeping the southern portion as it is, or designating it for parks and open spaces. Data centers should only be built in the northern part and only after a survey of historical sites has been carried out there. Additionally, data centers should not be visible from the battlefield, writes Patton.

Following its strong initial response to the proposal, Manassas Battlefield National Park sent a second letter on February 18 after candidates for the PW Digital Gateway responded to the park’s initial opposition.

Acting Park Superintendent Raquel Montez reaffirmed battlefield opposition to the Digital Gateway, citing “its high potential to adversely affect the historic and natural resources of the park lands and surrounding areas”. She added: “The threats posed by this submission would cause irreversible harm and negatively impact the park’s vast contributions to the community.”

The claimants had responded that they would “prioritize” the creation of protected open spaces, the restoration of resource areas, the protection of floodplain perimeters, etc. But on February 16, Forest Land Conservation Coordinator Sarah Parmelee commented again, saying making these things “a priority” was a squishy promise. She asked that the applicants guarantee the area that would be forested, the width of the forested buffer zones and the area of ​​the land to be put into easement.

The county’s Department of Transportation criticized several parts of the proposal, but primarily the widening of Pageland Lane to four lanes.

He said the county does not have the funds to widen the roads whose right-of-way would have to be purchased to widen the road, and that “it is unlikely that these improvements can be put in place in the next 10 years. “.

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