Home Local Politics Arlington County Board Candidate Matt de Ferranti on Hugo’s Golf Course Bill:...

Arlington County Board Candidate Matt de Ferranti on Hugo’s Golf Course Bill: “We must act to make sure the legislature and the Governor stop this bill.”

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by Democratic candidate for Arlington County Board Matt de Ferranti. I couldn’t agree more with what de Ferranti says here, as it’s almost exactly what I argued the other day. 🙂 I strongly urge every Democrat to vote NO on this bill and Gov. Northam to VETO IT if it reaches his desk. – Lowell

COUNTY BOARD CANDIDATE MATT DE FERRANTI  ISSUES STATEMENT OPPOSING GOLF COURSE TAX GIVEWAY

de Ferranti urges Legislators to Oppose, Governor to Veto, Arlingtonians to write in Opposition to House Bill 1204

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ARLINGTON, VA – Matt de Ferranti, candidate for Arlington County Board, issued the following statement about legislation that would cut revenues for Arlington County by an estimated $1.5 million per year so that golf courses can receive a tax break.

“This legislation would hurt Arlingtonians by shifting the tax burden from two wealthy businesses to homeowners. Arlingtonians want to see their property taxes used to keep Arlington schools strong, to support our public safety officers, to grow our economy, to keep our transportation network working, and to ensure that housing is affordable. This community does not want to see core services cut to give wealthy businesses a tax break,” said County Board candidate Matt de Ferranti.

The Legislation was drafted specifically to prevent Arlington’s tax assessor from assessing the value of the two golf courses in the County at the current $12 per square foot, which is already significantly less than the $99 per square that the land would be assessed at if it were residential property. Under the bill, House Bill 1204, the two golf courses, Washington Golf and Country Club and the Army Navy Country Club, would be valued at just $0.50 per square foot.

Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), who sponsored the bill said, “They [Arlington County] are really just gouging these folks [the two golf courses].”

“When the bill returns to the House of Delegates for full consideration with the Senate amendment, I urge all Democrats and Republicans to vote against this golf course giveaway,” said candidate de Ferranti. If the bill reaches Governor Northam and he vetoes it, a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Delegates and Senate would be necessary to override it.

“HB 1204 is both bad for Arlington and a limitation on local control that raises concerns regarding consistency with the Dillon Rule and Virginia law. I ask Legislators and, if the bill reaches his desk, Governor Northam, to stand with Arlington’s representatives in Richmond and the vast majority of Democrats across the Commonwealth, to stop this unfair and unnecessary giveaway to wealthy businesses who don’t need it.”

Under next year’s budget, Arlington County will already be forced to cut services, with $20 million in cuts proposed in the County Manager’s budget to street paving, energy efficiency programs, planning for Lee Highway, flat funding for affordable housing and $16.5 million in cuts proposed to Arlington County Public Schools, including school psychologists and social workers and increased class sizes. This additional reduction in revenue will lead to further cuts this year and in the years to come.

“Arlingtonians are rightly outraged by this legislation, which will result in a cut in services for middle class Arlingtonians this year and tighter budgets in the years to come. This is exactly the type of action that runs counter to Arlington values and leads to disillusionment with Richmond,” said candidate de Ferranti. “We must act to make sure the legislature and the Governor stop this bill.”

To write the Governor and ask him to veto House Bill 1204 if it reaches his desk, go to https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/Communicating-with-the-governors-office.

  • John Doe

    Anybody who thinks the members at Army Navy are the super rich cannot possibly have lived in Arlington for very long. And, case in point, Matt moved to Arlington in 2013. And to say that everyone in Arlington is upset is a bit overdramatic. Certainly, the Arlington Democratic Committee and the County Board are upset.

  • James McCarthy

    THugo is a Fairfax delegate. His legislation is simple weaponizing of the Dillon rule to the detriment of Arlington. Ordinarily, the Dillon rule is neutral except in THugo’s hands.
    207,000 residents of Arlington are forced to absorb a $1.5 Million tax loss for 7200 [less than 4% of total] country club members who may or may not be Arlington residents.
    As a Not for Profit, all taxpayers already absorb the tax loss on excess income over expense not including the club’s exemption from sales taxes. It matters not whether the members are super rich. All of us are already subsidizing the enterprise.

    • Exactly.

    • Also gotta love the b.s. “arguments” about “fairness,” despite the fact that nothing has changed in decades with the way these country clubs have been assessed/taxed. Why is this suddenly an “issue?” Also, since when do Republicans of all people care about “fairness” in the tax code? LOL

      • Rainier Wolfcastle

        The clubs have been attempting to have a dialogue with the county for years. The county has ignored the clubs and has refused to work this out. The clubs had no choice but to take the debate to Richmond. The General Assembly with bipartisan support overwhelmingly sided in favor of the clubs. This is absolutely about fairness and Virginia Democrats and Republicans have voted in favor of ANCC and WG&CC. The “emotion” from some of the “posters” here is “hysterical.”

      • DCStrangler

        Call it blowback from the disgraceful conduct of the ACB. Now that the last vestiges are finally gone, the eminently reasonable Katie Kristol should make nice to Richmond. Couldn’t hurt.

        • dave schutz

          Are you identifying Jay Fisette as ‘vestigial’? It’s an interesting claim…

    • Quizzical

      Has there been any information disclosed as to how many of the members of the clubs actually reside in Arlington? I would imagine that golf clubs are like health clubs, in that joining only makes sense in the long run if you either live or work very near the club.

      • James McCarthy

        It’s not material to the issues. If all 7200 members live in Arlington, it would not change the calculus.

        • Exactly.

        • Quizzical

          You could be right. I guess it all depends on what Gov. Northam thinks are the issues, and what he thinks is material, and as to that, I have no idea.

          I think if I were him, I might want to know what is really going on here. Is this an intramural fight between Arlington residents that got escalated to the General Assembly? Or influential outsiders running over Arlington? I think I’d want to know whether the clubs employed a lot of people, and if there was a risk of those people losing their jobs because of the tax situation.

          And I would really want to know how Loudoun County got caught up in this, and what this bill means for Loudoun County. Loudoun County apparently opted all along for the more lenient tax assessment method, yet they are getting their hands tied too, just like Arlington. Why? All this talk about the Dillon Rule – what has Loudoun County done to deserve getting its local authority pruned back? Also, is the bill going to reduce the taxes for Loudoun County clubs? And why was the acreage threshold raised from 5 acres to 20 acres?

          To me it looks like the proponents of this bill just wanted to talk about Army Navy Country Club, and nobody talks about the other 7-10 big country clubs that are getting legislatively gifted with a special tax treatment (among them Trump National).

          But as I said, I have no idea how Gov. Northam will approach this. It will be interesting to see how he thinks.

          • James McCarthy

            Loudoun was included to insure the bill was not deemed special requiring a greater approval threshold. It should not concern you what the governor needs to know. There’s a great deal of info on this board for most folks to make up their own minds. If you have an opinion communicate it to Northam. The clubs are multi million dollar enterprises and are not in jeopardy of their existence. No jobs are threatened.

            Make a decision for yourself and follow it.

          • Quizzical

            It should not concern me what the governor needs to know? I don’t understand. How does one persuade the decision maker without knowing what factors are material?

            Put another way, is a ten word sentence opposing the bill as effective as a 3 page letter?

          • James McCarthy

            Send a short email citing a single factor which impresses you and your conclusion to veto or not. That factor is material to you and your conclusion is persuasive to the governor. Whomever you vote for in an election generally does not know what persuaded you. The governor has staff to advise him on the facts and circumstances of the matter. Thus, a ten word sentence will be effective.

          • Quizzical

            Ok, I didn’t know that. Thanks.
            Here’s the link to write.
            https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/Communicating-with-the-governors-office

    • dave schutz

      Demetrius said (of Lavinia) “more water glideth by the mill Than wots the miller of; and easy it is Of a cut loaf to steal a shive.” Part of our problem here is that we are that cut loaf – members of the HoD have gotten used to doing things to Arlington in response to our Board’s actions. We are not loved, down in Richmond! If we had not done the Hot Lanes lawsuit or the second signature requirement for tows, the mass of delegates might be more hesitant to override our action.

      • James McCarthy

        Sorry, I don’t buy into that mea culpa even where some delegates voice criticism. The use of the Dillon rule as a weapon is inexcusable and not a mere act of unlove.

        • dave schutz

          We can disapprove all we like. Disapproving of use of the Dillon Rule, and 85 cents, will get us a cup of coffee someplace cheap. On the other hand, so will 85 cents all by itself…

          • James McCarthy

            If you don’t disapprove, there’s nothing to say. If you disapprove, write or call the governor to veto. I have and suggested legislation to limit the Dillon rule. Your move.

          • dave schutz

            I don’t disapprove of the Dillon Rule. The Dillon Rule is how Arlington businesses were protected against the second signature nonsense. I disapprove of this use of it; I don’t think Arlington is acting inappropriately in taxing the golf courses as it has been.

          • How about somewhere in between a strong Dillon Rule, as we have in Virginia, and the Cooley Doctrine?

          • James McCarthy

            A short answer might be a principle of federalism constraining the absolute authority of the state under Dillon. There’s truly no such thing as a Dillon rule. It’s a mere doctrine of interpretation unbounded by statute or, in the current country club matter, by common sense. Cooley, too, is unbounded in the opposite direction. The federal model a la the US Constitution offers both authorities – state and local – a great deal of latitude to sort out potential conflicts.

          • dave schutz

            Common sense is what you want. Arlington Dems have a history of phone banking for Dem candidates outside of the County, in the next HoD elections I expect substantial enthusiasm in the phone banker group working Hugo’s district… maybe that will engender some common sense!

          • James McCarthy

            Unelecting one candidate does not resolve the core matter of the relationship between the state and local governments with respect to conflict between them. Thugo’s intervention and the failure of intervention in the school integration conflict reflects the shortcoming of the Dillon rule. Relying upon Arlington Dems to phone bank against Thugo is not promising.

          • James McCarthy

            Then contact your legislator and the governor insisting that new legislation be adopted to prevent the GA from usurping local government functions as granted. There needs to be a kind of federalism principle between the state and localities to encourage initiative and innovation in local governance. It’s over 160 years since Judge Dillon pronounced his doctrine by which he expressed his lack of confidence in local governance. Currently, localities are mature and sophisticated versus 1868. Still your move.

          • dave schutz

            ridiculous. It was in 1959 that Prince Edward County closed its schools rather than integrate. In the last few years, Arlington tried to require businesses to get a real time signature before cars could be towed and sued to stop hot lanes from being built on 95. I do not share your confidence in localities. Because I reject it, I support the Dillon Rule. I am not happy with Delegate Hugo’s bill. but I don’t want to let localities run rampant. I grew up in California, where rapacious localities’ speed traps were only reversed by the state. The remedy for Hugo’s mischief is to lobby the legislature to reverse it, not to discard the Dillon Rule.

          • James McCarthy

            OK, so you agree with Judge Dillon except in this instance. Do you think the Dillon rule should have been invoked in 1959 to force the PE schools to do their duty under state law? How rampant do you think local government may be?
            I don’t believe I voiced “confidence” in localities only that their granted prerogatives under the Dillon rule be respected.
            You can also urge the Governor to veto the Hugo bill if you are opposed to it.

          • dave schutz

            Ordinarily, I expect the legislature will be the grownups in the room. Sometimes that has been true (second signature, HOT lanes, etc) sometimes not. Yes, I think the legislature should have forced Prince Edward to reopen its schools and for all students. ‘granted prerogatives under the Dillon Rule’ – what the Hell does that mean? The municipalities are creatures of the state and have no independent rights. I certainly would like Northam to veto the Hugo bill, but will understand if he doesn’t think this is a hill he chooses to die on.

          • James McCarthy

            As a principle of statutory construction, Dillon generally acknowledges that a locality has authority to conduct its business if so included in a statute adopted by the GA. Some grants of authority are generic to classes of local governments and others specifically granted. In the more than 160years since Judge Dillon ruled, local governments have become more mature and sophisticated in governance, including state and national organizations to exchange experiences and information.
            I did not write that students were granted prerogatives but the school boards were. BTW, it was the GA that insisted upon massive resistance to integration and was not likely to invoke the Dillon rule to require a school district to perform its legal obligation. It was the GA that nullified the Arlington County school board’s elective status because it proposed a phased integration plan.
            If you would like Northam to veto a bill with which you do not agree, please email the Governor.

        • DCStrangler

          Just because you invent phrases like this, doesn’t make them true. The Dillon Rule reserves power to the State. Not the other way around.

          • James McCarthy

            If you read what I wrote, you would understand that is exactly what I wrote. Reserving power to the state does not include using that power to invade a local government’s prerogatives. That, my friend, is using the Dillon rule as a weapon.

          • DCStrangler

            Local government has no prerogatives except that which the Commonwealth allows them to have. Your “weapon” argument is nonsense.

          • James McCarthy

            Yes, that is the classic statement of the Dillon rule’s function. In this case, the state usurped the county’s authority to assess real estate taxes which had been “allowed” by the state. Thus, the Dillon rule was employed to rescind the county’s previously granted authority. This is precisely what the GA did in1956 to Arlington’s school board when it proposed a phased integration plan in opposition to the state’s massive resistance to integration.
            If you believe that this is a justifiable use of the Dillon rule – a weapon to insure county conduct – then it is not a weapon. It’s a duck quacking and walking.

    • DCStrangler

      Arlington has only the likes of the Zimmermans, Fisettes, and Tejadas of the world to blame for their problems. If you kick a dog, don’t be surprised when it bites you.

      • James McCarthy

        Please be clear about your meaning here. Libtards like me don’t understand code speak.

        • DCStrangler

          Sorry, I don’t use such invective to demonize people I disagree with, though you clearly don’t have such qualms.

          • James McCarthy

            What??? Calling myself a libtard??? What was the meaning of your statement???

  • Rainier Wolfcastle

    James! Didn’t you come to the realization that Arlington is unfairly taxing these clubs? I could have sworn that you finally recognized that there was in fact a major tax inequity in play here. Could you have already forgotten after just a few days?

    • James McCarthy

      I did conclude that there was a question of equity (not fairness) IF every not for profit golf club in the state was subject to an identical assessment structure. If so, then that could be challenged including in court. The other facts remain: all taxpayers already subsidize NFP organizations; VA also exempts NFP from most sales taxes as well as income tax; Arlington has 207,000 residents who are being forced to subsidize $1.5 million a year. ANCC is reported to have 7200 members some of whom may be Arlington residents. On balance, the equities outweigh the demand for another subsidy. If I recall correctly one newspaper supported my suggestion that a sale of the property is an option.

      However, the most disturbing aspect of this legislation is that it represents a weaponizing of the Dillon rule encouraging the GA to usurp the proper role of local government in favor of a special interest. This also occurred in 1956 when the GA nullified Arlington’s school board’s authority because it planned a phased integration of its schools contrary to the state’s massive resistance. We must learn from history

  • Quizzical

    The surprising thing to me is that the Washington Golf and Country Club managed to get this legislation drawn up so that it is lumped in with the Army Navy Club. It would not be possible to draft the bill in such a way as to only protect a recreational facility serving the health and recreational needs of active and retired military, and veterans?

    The argument seems to be that absent this legislation, both golf courses inevitably would be taxed out of existence. If the legislation passes, does that mean the properties bordering the golf course should have higher appraised values, now that there’s no risk of the clubs being forced to sell the land?

    • James McCarthy

      Thugo drafted the legislation to avoid a higher approval threshold. ANCC reported $33Million income with a $14Million payroll. There appears no potential that the clubs will be taxed out of existence other than the complaints of its leadership. ANCC last reported a profit of $840,000 despite paying its tax assessment. You will as a member be able to play golf there for the foreseeable future.

      • Quizzical

        A $14 million payroll? How many people does it employ?

        • James McCarthy

          Not very many including a $400K general manager, a golf pro, a tennis pro, and an executive chef among others.

  • DCStrangler

    LOL. This bill already has numbers to override a veto.

    • James McCarthy

      Let’s see if it survives a veto!!!

      • It’s VERY unlikely that Dems would vote to override Gov. Northam’s veto. Like, zero chance basically. So pretty much, it will be up to Gov. Northam on this one.

        • DCStrangler

          And your opinion is based on what exactly? A veto would change their rationale for their vote in the first place? Are they going to risk political capital for taking their stance in the first place, only to risk more in reversing themselves? This is even assuming Northam wants to buck the GA in the first place.