A-15033, AUGUST 21, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 145

A-15033: Aug 21, 1926

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IS CONSTRUED AS A LIMITATION UPON THE BALANCE OF THE APPROPRIATION. 926: I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 10. IS AS TO WHETHER THE LIMITATION THAT THE PURCHASE PRICE TO BE PAID OUT OF THE REMAINDER OF THE APPROPRIATION SHALL NOT EXCEED THE FULL VALUE ASSESSMENT OF SUCH PROPERTY PLUS 25 PERCENT THEREOF. IS CLEAR. THE DOUBT WHICH IS SUGGESTED IS WITH RELATION TO THE FACT THAT LAND MAY BE ACQUIRED THROUGH TWO DIFFERENT BASIC METHODS. BOTH ARE METHODS OF PURCHASE WITH RELATION TO PRICE. THE VIEW RATHER IS JUSTIFIED THAT IF AN EXCEPTION WERE INTENDED TO THE LIMITATION IT WOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARLY EXPRESSED. THE LANGUAGE IS NOT OBSCURE BUT IS BROAD AND COMPREHENSIVE AS TO THE INTENT THAT THERE SHALL BE A LIMIT UPON THE PURCHASE PRICE.

A-15033, AUGUST 21, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 145

NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION - PURCHASE OF PARK AND PLAYGROUND SITES THE STIPULATION IN THAT PORTION OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1926, 44 STAT. 449, PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF LAND BY THE NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PARK, PARKWAY, AND PLAYGROUND SYSTEM OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL, THAT NO MORE THAN $150,000 OF THE APPROPRIATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SITES IN EXCESS OF THE FULL VALUE ASSESSMENT OF SUCH PROPERTY LAST MADE BEFORE PURCHASE PLUS 25 PERCENT OF SUCH ASSESSED VALUE, IS CONSTRUED AS A LIMITATION UPON THE BALANCE OF THE APPROPRIATION, REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ACQUISITION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION, AUGUST 21, 926:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 10, 1926, REQUESTING TO BE ADVISED AS TO THE CONSTRUCTION TO BE PUT ON THAT PORTION OF THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF MAY 10, 1926, 44 STAT. 449, APPROPRIATING $600,000 FOR THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION, INCLUDING THE ACQUISITION OF LAND FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PARK, PARKWAY, AND PLAYGROUND SYSTEM OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL, WHICH PROVIDES THAT---

* * * NO MORE THAN $150,000 OF THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SITES WITHOUT LIMITATION AS TO PRICE BASED ON ASSESSED VALUE AND THAT THE PURCHASE PRICE TO BE PAID FOR ANY SITE OUT OF THE REMAINDER OF THE APPROPRIATION SHALL NOT EXCEED THE FULL VALUE ASSESSMENT OF SUCH PROPERTY LAST MADE BEFORE PURCHASE THEREOF PLUS 25 PERCENTUM OF SUCH ASSESSED VALUE.

THERE APPEARS TO BE NO QUESTION RELATIVE TO THE SUM OF $150,000 WHICH STANDS UNFETTERED BY LIMITATIONS OF ASSESSMENT VALUATION, THE QUESTION PRESENTED BEING WITH REFERENCE TO THE LATTER PORTION OF THE PROVISO, AND IS AS TO WHETHER THE LIMITATION THAT THE PURCHASE PRICE TO BE PAID OUT OF THE REMAINDER OF THE APPROPRIATION SHALL NOT EXCEED THE FULL VALUE ASSESSMENT OF SUCH PROPERTY PLUS 25 PERCENT THEREOF, PRECLUDES THE USE OF SAID REMAINDER TO ACQUIRE PROPERTY THE VALUE OF WHICH, AS DETERMINED UNDER SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 6, 1924, 43 STAT. 463, AND THE ACT OF AUGUST 30, 1890, 26 STAT. 412, 413, EXCEEDS BY MORE THAN 25 PERCENT THE FULL ASSESSMENT VALUE THEREOF.

THE GENERAL INTENT OF THE PROVISO IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF MAY 10, 1926, 44 STAT. 449, IS CLEAR--- THAT CONGRESS INTENDED TO LIMIT THE PRICE TO BE PAID FOR LANDS ACQUIRED. THE DOUBT WHICH IS SUGGESTED IS WITH RELATION TO THE FACT THAT LAND MAY BE ACQUIRED THROUGH TWO DIFFERENT BASIC METHODS, ONE COMMONLY BY AGREEMENT AND THE OTHER BY CONDEMNATION. BOTH ARE METHODS OF PURCHASE WITH RELATION TO PRICE. IN THE PROVISO IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY RESTRICT THE LIMITATION TO THE ACQUISITION OF LANDS BY AGREEMENT AS DISTINGUISHED FROM BY CONDEMNATION. THE VIEW RATHER IS JUSTIFIED THAT IF AN EXCEPTION WERE INTENDED TO THE LIMITATION IT WOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARLY EXPRESSED, TO WIT, TO THE EFFECT THAT IT SHALL NOT APPLY TO ACQUISITION BY CONDEMNATION. THE LANGUAGE IS NOT OBSCURE BUT IS BROAD AND COMPREHENSIVE AS TO THE INTENT THAT THERE SHALL BE A LIMIT UPON THE PURCHASE PRICE. AS TO SUCH LIMIT THE PURCHASE PRICE MUST BE THE AMOUNT PAID, WHETHER IT BE PAYABLE THROUGH AGREEMENT FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE LAND OR BY CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO NARROW THE PURCHASE PRICE TO THE SINGLE METHOD OF ACQUISITION BY AGREEMENT.

THE LEGISLATIVE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THROUGHOUT THE CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER THE CONGRESS WAS SERIOUSLY CONCERNED RESPECTING THE AMOUNTS PAID AND TO BE PAID FOR LANDS, THERE BEING A SHOWING THAT APPROXIMATELY 60 PERCENT OVER THE ASSESSED VALUE HAD BEEN PAID FOR SOME 20 PARCELS OF LAND ACQUIRED FOR PARK PURPOSES. THIS CONCERN WAS REPEATEDLY EXPRESSED AND WAS FINALLY REDUCED AND EMBODIED IN THE PROVISO RESTRICTING THE USES OF THE APPROPRIATION MADE. ANY LIMITATION OF 25 PERCENT OVER THE ASSESSED VALUE OF THE LAND WHICH COULD BE ESCAPED THROUGH COURT PROCEEDINGS AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 30, 1890, WOULD OBVIOUSLY MAKE THE LIMITATION USELESS AS A MATTER OF PRACTICAL PROCEDURE. THE INTENT, AS EXPRESSED IN THE STATUTE, IS TO PREVENT THE USE OF THE REMAINDER OF THE APPROPRIATION TO PAY MORE THAN 25 PERCENT OF THE UNEARNED INCREMENT OF THE LAND AS MEASURED BY THE ASSESSED VALUE, REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ACQUISITION OF SAID LAND, AND SUCH INTENT AS EXPRESSED IN THE ENACTMENT MAY NOT BE DISREGARDED OR LIBERALIZED. THE CONGRESS HAS THE SOLE POWER, UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 9, OF THE CONSTITUTION, TO APPROPRIATE MONEYS, AND IT MAY IN ITS LIMITATIONS UPON THE USES OF PUBLIC FUNDS APPEAR FROM SOME VIEWPOINTS UNNECESSARILY RESTRICTIVE, BUT THE RESPONSIBILITY IS THAT OF THE CONGRESS, AND ITS AUTHORITY THEREIN BEING SUPREME THE ONLY RECOURSE IS THROUGH A FURTHER SUBMISSION THERETO.

ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE YOU THAT, WITH REFERENCE TO THAT PORTION OF THE APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE LIMITATION APPLIES, THE COMMISSION IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY THE TERMS OF THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF MAY 10, 1926, TO PAY FOR ANY SITE, REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF ACQUISITION, A PRICE EXCEEDING THE FULL ASSESSMENT VALUE OF SUCH PROPERTY LAST MADE BEFORE THE PURCHASE PLUS 25 PERCENT OF SUCH ASSESSED VALUE.