Ada County officials are squirming over the recent purchase of land without an appraisal mandated by Idaho law.
The GUARDIAN has confirmed that neither elected Assessor Bob McQuade nor his chief deputy, Tim Tallman, were consulted about the so-called appraisal and no one with a commercial appraisal license ever supervised the appraisal as claimed in an Ada County press release.
Ada County Commishes issued a press release late Friday attempting to spin a case for their unscheduled and hasty purchase of the 250 acre Red Hawk subdivision at a sheriff’s sale May 8. The cover up is getting worse than the crime. The GUARDIAN stands by the PREVIOUS POST.
The GUARDIAN previously requested a copy of any appraisal–which is mandated by Idaho Code prior to acquiring real estate. We were provided an informal e-mail from a member of the Ada Assessor’s staff who is NOT a licensed appraiser.
After the GUARDIAN posted that fact and opined the entire purchase was outside the law, Ada County issued a press release claiming the employee’s supervisor was a licensed commercial appraiser and that made it OK for the third level unlicensed tax appraiser to issue what the county says qualifies as a commercial appraisal–despite his lack of a proper license to do so.
Turns out even Tallman, the supposed supervisor at the Ada Assessor’s office is not licensed to appraise more than a four-plex structure and his state license does not extend to massive land deals such as the 250 acre purchase the county made.
We suspect the staffer was merely offering a cursory answer to a question about the land value when said the land in question was “worth $1,000 to $5,000 per acre.” About as safe as saying, “my house is worth between a hundred thousand and half a million.”
Given the county argument, anyone supervised by a licensed attorney could practice law. Or those working for a licensed electrician could do electrical wiring and installation. Great economic idea–pay for a single license and claim authority for anyone working for the licensed expert.
The third level staffer was approached directly by a county attorney who was advising the commishes and eventually did the actual bidding on the 250 acres at the sheriff’s sale. She scared off a private party and got it for $240,000.
No one argues about the price, but the county spinners are saying the county lien for legal fees stemming from a court judgement would not have been paid if a private party acquired the land at auction. The county SPENT $240,000 and did not “protect the taxpayers” in any fashion. They gave up more in delinquent taxes than the judgement they held for legal fees.
They claim the land could go into some sort of reserve for “trading purposes.” The main reason local governments trade land is to avoid declaring it surplus and selling at public auction. They also mentioned “possible open space,” which flies in the face of the fact it was the Ada County Commission that approved the Red Hawk subdivision in the first place!
Finally, in their efforts to toss about stinky “red herring,” Ada’s press release makes the outrageous claim, “Additionally, Idaho Code 31-806 indicates an appraisal is not required in instances where land is purchased for the purposes of recreation and open space preservation.”
In fact, 31-806 makes no mention of any exemption from an appraisal to acquire park land. Further, Idaho Code 31-807 requires an appraisal prior to acquisition of ANY property and also makes no exceptions for park or open space. They can’t even argue the statute is unclear or in conflict. Practically inviting a lawsuit, Commish Ullman said, “We obtain our legal advice from the elected Ada County Prosecutor and his attorneys. When there is a disagreement over the interpretation of applicable law, the court system is always an available resource.”
The GUARDIAN “court of public opinion” rules the county acted outside the law!
Click to view press release text…
County Land Purchase
(Boise, ID) – Earlier this month, Ada County purchased approximately 250 acres of property in the Dry Creek Valley in the Boise foothills, more commonly referred to as “Red Hawk Estates.” Ada County bought the property at a public foreclosure auction and paid $240,000 for it, significantly less than the property’s fair market value.
The Red Hawk Estates developer had unsuccessfully sued Ada County when the County denied a second request for a time extension to develop the land. The Idaho Supreme Court deemed his lawsuit frivolous, and ordered the developer to pay the county’s legal fees. After not receiving payment, Ada County placed a lien against this property for the money owed. The property eventually ended up in foreclosure with more than $1.1 million owed to the bank.
When the property went to auction, the only way the County could protect its financial interest, was to purchase it. The County would not have received the money owed if the property was sold to a private bidder, because the bank debt would have been paid from the proceeds first. There was additional incentive to purchase the property given the possibility the County could swap the land for other land adjacent to the landfill, or leave it as open space for recreational purposes. The property purchase provides the opportunity to connect the Ridge to Rivers trails in Hidden Springs to those proposed as part of the Avimor Planned Community, a goal that is supported by the County.
The suggestion that the County violated the legal requirement of Idaho Code 31-807 to obtain an appraisal prior to the purchase is not true. Commissioners did consult with the Ada County Assessor’s Office. All of the Assessor’s employees work under the supervision of a licensed Idaho appraiser. The Assessor’s Office reported that the land is estimated to be worth between $1000 and $5000 per acre.
Additionally, Idaho Code 31-806 indicates an appraisal is not required in instances where land is purchased for the purposes of recreation and open space preservation. “We obtain our legal advice from the elected Ada County Prosecutor and his attorneys. When there is a disagreement over the interpretation of applicable law, the court system is always an available resource,” said Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman.
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