Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the taxpayer getting a good deal when Toledo sells property for $500?

Toledo City Council has an item on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting that would sell a piece of property.

Normally, this isn't a big deal, especially because, under Mayor Mike Bell, the city has been trying to dispose of city owned property for both the revenue and to eliminate the cost of maintaining it.

However, when property is sold for significantly less than the appraised value or even the fair market value, the city - read: taxpayers - suffer.

That is the case with this ordinance:

O-370-12 Authorizing the Mayor to execute and deliver needed instruments to effectuate the sale and conveyance of a portion of certain City-owned real property located at 220 Columbia Street to Mark A. Martin for the amount of $500; authorizing the deposit of the net sale proceeds; waiving the competitive bidding provisions of T.M.C. 187; and declaring an emergency.

The City operates a Land Reutilization Program pursuant to Section 187.19(a) of the Toledo Municipal Code which authorizes the City to accept nonproductive land and dispose of same pursuant to Chapter 5722 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Department of Development oversees the review and processing of the program which includes a property that Mark A. Martin wishes to acquire a portion of at 220 Columbia Street. This property will be utilized for lot expansion of 2257 Putnam. The negotiated sale price to Mr. Martin for this property is $500

The county auditor's AREIS website sets the 100% value of 220 Columbia (a half-acre empty lot) at $20,600. The 35% value (on which the property is taxed) is $7,210.

Now, I understand that what you can actually get when selling a property is often different from the auditor's value of the property, but is a sale price that is 2.4% of the value a good deal for the taxpayers? Even if you look at the 35% value, the sale price of $500 is only 7% of the worth of the property.

Additionally, the ordinance waives competitive bidding, which means that others who might be willing to pay more for the property are excluded from the possibility of doing do.

Dos the $500 even cover the city's costs of owning this property? According to the AREIS website, the City has owned and maintained it since 1999. They got it from J.R. Talley who acquired it as forfeited land in 1991.

While the purpose of selling the property may be to return unused land to productivity, I believe the city should tell the taxpayer - perhaps in the text of the ordinance - how much it has cost us to maintain it and why they believe the sales price is a 'fair market value' and in the best interest of the taxpayer.

These are the questions I have just looking at the ordinance. Do you think any members of council will ask for such information?

Inquiring minds....

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