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Celebrate Va. hits hard times page 2
The Silver Cos. and its investment partners owe about $5 million in back taxes and special assessment payments.

Date published: 4/22/2011

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The structure of the Celebrate Virginia partnerships precludes the manager from forcing individual members to put up additional cash to cover taxes or assessments, said Jud Honaker, Silver’s president of commercial development. The money for those payments comes from project revenue such as land sales or leases to users.

After the land is sold, the new owner is responsible for both the local property taxes and assessments. But because of the recession and tight lending standards, a huge percentage of the overall financial burden still falls on the developer.

SOUTH SIDE HIT HARDER

The financial situation is worse in Celebrate Virginia South than on the north side of the river, due in part to the project getting started closer to the beginning of recession.

There was $25 million in bonds sold for the south side in 2006, compared with $31 million in CDA bonds on the Stafford side in 2003.

Entities related to Silver and its partners are responsible for 92 percent of the annual taxes and assessments on the 541-acre Fredericksburg side, according to Celebrate Virginia CDA administrator MuniCap Inc.

The Silver entities now owe the city close to $3.7 million in back taxes and special assessments including interest and penalties, according to Fredericksburg’s Treasurer’s Office.

A little more than $3 million of what Silver and its partners owe in late payments is from the special assessments to finance the bond payments.

Debt service totals about $1.9 million a year for the south side.

The remainder is in late city real-estate taxes. The Silver entities account for close to half of the $1.3 million owed to the city in overdue real-estate taxes, which makes them easily the biggest delinquent taxpayer in the city.

Next is the National Slavery Museum, which owes about $150,700 in back taxes on the Celebrate Virginia property that Silver and its partners donated to the moribund organization. The next-largest delinquent taxpayer in the city owes about $68,000.

Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley points out that delinquencies are budgeted for and says the money will be collected eventually either through payments or land sales. In the meantime, the city earns 10 percent annual interest on the delinquent amount on top of a 10 percent late penalty.


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