A a non-profit, voluntary group calling itself The Tax Accountability committee (“TAC”), will hold a press conference Monday morning at the Statehouse to call attention to a land swap they say cost the education endowment fund $1.3 million due to faulty appraisals.
According to TAC, the Idaho Department of Lands traded 14 acres of endowment lake front property in McCall, appraised at $6.1 million, for a building and 3.14 acres in Idaho Falls. The trade was “based on an un-reviewed, clearly questionable appraisal asserting a value of exactly the same $6.1 million.” Meanwhile, the Bonneville County assessor valued the Idaho Falls property at almost one-third that price–$2.2 million dollars. Nevertheless, the IDL transacted the exchange of the state-owned McCall trust property with “IW4, LLC,” owner of the Idaho Falls property.
Following the exchange, IW4 LLC sold the McCall property to the University of Idaho for $6.1 million thereby making a profit of nearly $4 million. A big question which needs to be answered is: “why would one state agency trade land it owns to a private party and then turn around and buy it back for another state agency?”
If the allegations are true, it will be another chapter in what has become an aggressive move on the part of the State Land Board to compete with the private sector on real estate rentals and even operating private businesses.
The GUARDIAN broke the story of AFFORDABLE STORAGE three years ago, causing outrage in some circles and claims from the IDL of “following a constitutional mandate to get the best return possible on public lands.”
While the scandal to be unveiled by TAC will undoubtedly cause some legislative scrutiny, the public ownership and expenditure of public funds to purchase and remodel the 10 Barrel Brewing designer pub has received mixed reviews. The State Education Endowment fund owns more than 20 Boise properties which are tax-free commercial rentals.
Our major concern with state-owned private businesses and urban commercial rental property is the loss of tax revenue to the city, county, highway district, and schools.
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