Virginia’s Arlington County has awarded Signature Theatre a $250,000 grant – principally so that it can pay its real estate taxes to Arlington County, the County announced Tuesday.
About $85,000 will go to pay overdue taxes, Department of Management and Finance director Michelle Cowan told Scott McCafgfrey of the Arlington Sun-Gazette, and the remainder will go to pay present and future taxes, although a small amount may be spent for a financial consultant.
The Board’s vote was five to nothing in favor of the grant in a closed meeting on Tuesday.
Signature’s tax arrangement with the County is an unusual one, in that, although the building is owned by the County, Signature is, by agreement, obligated to pay real estate and business tangible taxes as though it owned the building and was not tax-exempt. Other County-supported arts groups operating in County-subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes, according to County Manager Barbara Donnellan.
The County’s grant award was apparently necessary to forestall aggressive collection efforts on the part of the County. “We will either physically seize the property or put ugly seizure notices on the business equipment,” County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun-Gazette, describing his office’s typical approach to businesses delinquent in the payment of their taxes. “If we know that they have a flow of income, we will go to the source of that income and redirect it. We can do all those things without going to court.”
For the short term, it appears that Arlington County’s action will spare the Shirlington-based Signature Theatre from such a fate. “The County is committed to growing the arts in Arlington, and in particular to Signature Theatre, one of the most successful theaters in not only Virginia and the Metro region, but also the country,” Donnellan said.
“Signature culturally enriches our community and has helped make Shirlington a regional draw for dining, entertainment and the arts. This grant is an investment in both the arts and in Shirlington.”