from Leesburg Patch
July 11, 2011
Owners of the 112-acre National Conference Center in Lansdowne – recently named by Loudoun County Board of Supervisors as the preferred site for a new high school in north Ashburn – won a $75,454 reduction in the real estate tax bill for the site after appealing to the Loudoun Board of Equalization. The NCC’s 2011 tax bill was $640,854 before the hearing.
A “907” form indicating the newly assessed value was released to Patch in response to a request filed on June 29 under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The BOE commissioners did not reduce the “fair market value” of the NCC’s land, including about 42 acres in play as the possible site for the high school, leaving it at about $22.5 million. However, the assessed value of the buildings and improvements at the NCC, including the circa-1973 National Training Center where several federal agencies hold training sessions and seminars, was reduced by nearly $6 million to $21.5 million.
At the end of the day, the total fair market value of the NCC dropped from about $50 million to $44 million, or about 12 percent.
Oxford DTC Real Estate LLC owns the property. The NCC was formerly known as the Xerox Training Center and was once the location of a training camp for the Washington Redskins.
Loudoun property taxes are computed by dividing the assessed value of a parcel, including buildings and structures, by 100 and multiplying by the tax rate, which currently is $1.285.
The BOE did not release the schedule of income and expenses that NCC was required to submit for the hearing, but arguments at the June 28 hearing on the appeal centered on the methodology used to estimate NCC’s annual revenue.
NCC attorney O. Leland Mahan and finance director C.V. Titus said the NCC has been hurt by the federal government’s decision to reduce the daily allowance for employee expenses – three meals and a room – from $198 last year to $172. About half of the NCC’s business comes from government training conducted by Department of Defense, Army, Navy and the DSA.
NCC officials challenged the county’s reliance on 2008 revenue figures to predict income in 2011, which the county estimated at $38 million. Business was brisk in 2008, they said, but not in 2010, which was incomplete when the county computed the 2011 fair market value.
“We see the business growing,” said NCC General Manager Kurt Krause. But until people start training again, he said, NCC revenue will not reach 2008 levels.
“That was probably the best year in the history of the NCC,” he said, referring to 2008. “January 2009 was the third best month ever. In April, we crashed.”
John D. Nelson, supervising appraiser for the county’s commercial division, said the estimate “is based on prior history up to a certain point in time.” He argued that the NCC has “substantial excess land” and cited a court ruling indicating that its value should be included. Computing fair market value based only on NCC’s income without adding the value of the excess land would result in “greatly understating” its value, Nelson said.
“There is a high probability of [the land] being sold and used separately,” he said. Loudoun supervisors have formally announced their intent to buy the site for a high school.