Arlington County Board asks Gov. Northam to veto bill that would lower taxes for 2 country clubs

- The Arlington County Board is taking aim at two country clubs over taxes and how much they should be paying.

A bill has been proposed that would decrease the taxes for the clubs, but board members have written a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam asking him to veto the bill.

This all began when the Virginia General Assembly got involved with HB 1204 that would categorize Washington Golf and Country Club and Army Navy Country Club as open spaces, which would significantly reduce their taxes.

The county said the change would mean about $1.5 million in tax breaks for the clubs. That money currently goes toward public services, including schools. If these two country clubs do not have to pay these taxes, officials said that would take away about $750,000 from education.

“If the governor vetoes this bill, if we can come up with a different and more equitable resolution, that will pay for seven school psychologists or counselors,” said Arlington County Board chair Katie Cristol. “When we think about public space, we believe it should be publicly accessible. To make something by statute or by law open space, it really ought to be open. We would love to have more parkland in Arlington County. We need more places for our kids to play soccer, for our seniors to recreate, for people to picnic and for families to enjoy. This unfortunately is just not that kind of publicly accessible open space.”

The Army Navy Country Club said it currently pays about $1.6 million in taxes – some of the highest in the county – and the tax cut "would not take away from schools. That's not a legitimate claim. The [taxes] are being reduced to something fair ... We don’t want special treatment. We want to be treated like anyone else.”

About 75 percent of Army Navy Country Club members are military personnel and the club said this is not a tax break for the rich and famous.

FOX 5 reached out to Washington Golf and Country Club, but we have not heard back as of Friday night.

Arlington County said it is working on ways to adjust the clubs' assessments to try and resolve this dispute in a way that would benefit both sides.

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