Since 2010: Kaine makes first Biscuit Run comment
Since the revelation that a potentially hyperinflated appraisal could have defrauded Virginia taxpayers out of millions of dollars, former governor Tim Kaine has now made his first public statements on the state's controversial purchase of what will eventually become Biscuit Run State Park. And he's still enthusiastic.
"I thought it was a very good deal," Kaine says.
Appearing calm and well-briefed on the issue, the now U.S. Senate hopeful paused briefly with reporters after a fundraising lunch at a Charlottesville restaurant on Tuesday, June 7 to answer questions.
Kaine says that only the $9.8 million cash purchase price and not the millions in appraisal-dependent tax credits– which he says the sellers tried to amass after the transaction– were part of his gubernatorial calculus.
"We made no deal on the tax credits," says Kaine. "That is something the tax department does."
As the Hook has reported, a group of deep-pocketed speculators– including millionaire bank founder Hunter Craig and music mogul Coran Capshaw– unloaded the troubled property on the state in late 2009 after their plans for housing flopped.
According to leaked documents, the group tried to snag over $30 million in tax credits by claiming– just four and a half years and one popped bubble after buying it– that it had nearly doubled in value. Like some taxpayers, the Department of Taxation scoffed at the $88 million appraisal from Orange-based Patricia O'Grady-Filer, but no fraud charges or even a tug on her license ensued.
The leaked documents showed that state tax officials did allow a valuation somewhere in the vicinity of $40 million. While that measurement unleashed over $11 million in credits, the speculators appealed; and Kaine suggests that unhappiness for the millionaires is okay with him.
"I hope the tax department is absolutely tough and rigorous," says Kaine, "in scrutinizing any claim for tax credits because obviously the more they give to one– and there's about $100 million a year– the less they can give to someone else."
Kaine departed the governor's office in January 2010, the same month he pronounced the Biscuit Run plan a "bargain" and, as he now points out, the fulfillment of a two-decades-long state plan to put a Virginia park in Albemarle.
Locally, however, officials expressed surprise over various aspects, most notably the removal of precious land in the designated growth area.
Assuming he wins his Democratic party's upcoming nomination, Kaine will likely face off against former Senator George Allen in the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate seat opened by the planned retirement of Jim Webb.This story is a part of the The Biscuit Run cash grab special.