Public records obtained by the GUARDIAN indicate the Ada County purchase of a foothills subdivision May 8 was contrary to Idaho Code 31-807 which mandates an appraisal by a LICENSED appraiser must be made prior to purchase.
The applicable law states: “…but no purchase of real property must be made unless the value of the same has been previously estimated by a real estate appraiser licensed to appraise real property in the state of Idaho pursuant to the provisions of chapter 41, title 54,…”
County officials were quietly checking out the land as early as April 23. A county tax appraiser–certified to do tax appraisals, but not LICENSED as required by law–was contacted by a county lawyer regarding the legal description and value of the property commonly known as Red Hawk Subdivision.
The appraiser responded with an informal note–not a legal appraisal–saying: “I have looked (sic) reviewed the valuation on these parcels and have searched for market comparables within the North Ada County Area. From my review these parcels consist of sloping and rolling terrain, with limited access. From the market research that I have compiled, I have observed a comparables range of $1000 to $5000 per acre with variances depending primarily on access and overall site usability. Please let me know if you need any other information.”
Despite this activity two weeks prior to the May 8 meeting, the commishes made a last minute amendment to the agenda, met in a secret session and then voted publicly to authorize the legal staff to bid at the sheriff’s sale a mere two hours later. The 258 acre parcel was purchased by the county for $240,000. We see no justification for the secret executive session since the land was being offered for sale at a public sheriff’s auction and public knowledge of the county’s interest wouldn’t affect the auction price.
The county made no declaration of public need or public purpose prior to the acquisition. Commish Sharon Ullman told the Idaho statesman they were protecting the interest of the taxpayers with the purchase because the owner owed back taxes and legal fees. That logic simply doesn’t wash because liens placed on the property by the county would satisfy any back taxes or legal fees–there was no need to purchase the land and remove it from the tax rolls.
They may have gotten a good deal, but the deal was outside the law and we see a scramble afoot to cover their tracks.
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