A Forest Service certifying officer requested information concerning the payment of annual assessments levied against a government-owned lot by a homeowners' association. Questions were raised as to whether appropriated funds were available to pay the assessments and, if so, whether the capitalized value could be paid in one lump sum by the Service. Further, the Service questioned whether it had violated the Antideficiency Act by accepting title to a lot because the acceptance made the government responsible to pay the homeowners' association's annual assessments. GAO responded that, when the Service became the lot's owner, it obligated the United States to perform a covenant running with the land. However, it did not violate the act because it acquired the lot after Congress enacted the appropriation. Regarding whether the annual assessment could be paid in one lump sum, the applicable statute generally prohibits agencies from paying for goods or services in advance. GAO stated that the government is required to pay on the due date of each assessment which represents liquidation of a fully mature obligation. The Service also questioned whether payment of the fees would be prohibited under the general rule of sovereignty. GAO stated that the sovereign immunity doctrine does not apply to these assessments because they were levied by a private entity. In response to the final question concerning what appropriation was available to make payment, GAO stated that the fees are payable from appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund authorized by Public Law 97-100.
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