Representatives of a Loudoun County citizens group that has accused the county of improperly financing the new government center last week filed another lawsuit against county officials in connection with the building, trying yet another legal tack.
The group, Voters Insisting Government Listen (VIGL), has persistently criticized the previous Board of Supervisors for allowing construction of the building after voters in 1993 rejected a $35.5 million bond issue to finance the center.
The board contracted with a developer for the $37 million building in downtown Leesburg, which the county is leasing and eventually will buy. Construction costs were financed through certificates of participation--similar to bonds--issued through a nonprofit entity called Gilcorp.
The new suit asks a Loudoun County judge to revoke Gilcorp's tax-exempt status and order the collection of back taxes on the building.
Nicholas Donnangelo, a leader of VIGL, two other Loudoun residents and one business claim in the lawsuit that Gilcorp has inappropriately been given tax-exempt status. The lawsuit, which was filed in Loudoun Circuit Court, names Commissioner of the Revenue Catherine B. Ashby and county Treasurer H. Roger Zurn Jr. as defendants.
Donnangelo has argued that Gilcorp should be considered a public body, not a private entity, and he has fought unsuccessfully in court to obtain Gilcorp records under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act.
"The county can't have it both ways," Donnangelo said. "Either Gilcorp is a part of county government . . . or it is a private entity required to pay taxes."
County Attorney John R. Roberts last week declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying he had not reviewed it. In a 1995 memo, Roberts said Gilcorp is properly tax exempt because the "beneficial interest" lies with the county.
Earlier this year, a Circuit Court judge, in response to a lawsuit filed by a VIGL member, ruled that the building's financing method is legal, and the Virginia Supreme Court has declined to hear a similar complaint about the financing method.