The General Assembly in 2013 unanimously passed Senate Bill 1356, introduced by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel.
It changed Virginia law to permit the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, rather than Circuit Court judges, to appoint the five members of the Board of Equalization, which reviews appeals of real estate tax assessments and has the power to adjust them:
” … the board of supervisors of Loudoun County may elect to appoint the members and alternate members of its board of equalization of real estate assessments,” the new law reads.
In 2011, the five members of the BOE in Loudoun were Scott Littner, Chairman; Ed Maurer, Michele Ferriera, Peter Kehoe, and James Ryan. After Maurer resigned in 2012, Dennis Hanrahan was appointed.
In 2013, with the terms of Littner, Ferriera and Kehoe to expire at year’s end, Ferriera and Kehoe applied for reappointment. The Board of Supervisors made its first three appointments to replace them with Subba Kolla, Michael Krueger, and Jeanette Newton, who now comprise the BOE with Chairman James Ryan and Dennis Hanrahan.
Littner, Maurer, Ferriera, and Kehoe, the four BOE members who voted behind closed doors on June 28, 2011, to reduce the National Conference Center’s assessment by $6 million, no longer serve on the Board of Equalization in Loudoun County. Ryan was not present for that vote.
On Nov. 2, 2011, the Democratic-majority Board of Supervisors refused, by a vote of 7-1-1, to approve payment of $25,000 for legal fees for the BOE’s defense against a FOIA lawsuit filed in General District Court after their illegal vote. The Circuit Court judges then triggered payment from state funds held in the county treasury.
After the BOE’s attorney sued the Board of Supervisors for an additional $35,000 in legal fees, on Feb. 1, 2012, an all-Republican Board of Supervisors voted to settle the case by approving that payment, but only after harsh comments from several supervisors:
“Rare in the history of our county has there been an abuse of … trust as in this case.”
— Eugene Delgaudio, Sterling District
“I have supported this settlement because it is the right thing to do. We have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers. [But] like Supervisor Delgaudio, I am absolutely appalled by the actions of the BOE. This action should never gotten this far. If this had happened in corporate America, folks would have been fired and shown the door. A simple apology would have saved many, many, many, many tens of thousands of dollars and instead, the BOE chose the irresponsible path, and I think the taxpayers need to be aware of what they have cost us.”
– Ralph Buona, Ashburn District
“It is time for the Chairman of the BOE to apologize to Ms. Bradford and settle the case and get done with it. Just so folks are aware, this does not necessarily stop any further payment from this board. There is still the pending case between the BOE and Ms. Bradford, and we as the county can be on the hook for Ms. Bradford’s attorney fees should they win the court case.
“And quite frankly, while I don’t want to pay Ms. Bradford’s attorney fees, I hope she does win in court, because what the BOE did was simply wrong.”
– Scott York, Chairman