The resignation of Dept. of Lands Deputy Director Cathy Opp and the revelation by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey that legislators have turned down donations from leaseholders of state-owned recreation lots at Payette and Priest Lakes, signals a possible policy shift of Idaho Land Board activities.
The board is comprised of the five state elected officers with the exception of the treasurer (controller, governor, secretary of state, supt. of education, and attorney general. The state endowment lands are managed by the Idaho Dept. of Lands.
The IDL has followed directives from the board to divest the recreational property because it seems to be a pain in the bum to administer and not a big money maker. Through sales, purchases, and trades IDL has gotten into the commercial rental property business and they even own and operate a commercial storage firm in Boise…all tax exempt property which hurts revenues to cities, counties, and other local taxing units.
The commercial ventures were the brainchild of IDL deputy director Cathy Opp. We learned last week Opp has resigned following what appeared to be a series of off the record meetings by land board member’s staffs. That’s to say there may be a policy shift away from the commercial property business by the state. With Sec. of State Ben Ysursa leaving office along with Ed Super Tom Luna, there is a potential change in attitude among the yet to be elected new members.
In June 2011 Gov. Butch Otter called the venture into private business on the part of the state a MISTAKE.
Opp once told the GUARDIAN she would purchase Sun Valley (for example) or any other properties if they had a good return for the Education Endowment fund.
Two more recreation land auctions are coming up. It is nearly impossible for anyone other than the current leaseholder to win. The minimum bid will be the appraised value of the lots, but if a bidder other than the lessee wins the auction, they must pay the current lessee the appraised value of the cabin and other improvements in addition to the bid price paid to the state. Last auction saw nine out of 10 sales go to current leaseholders.
The name of the game is to get a low appraisal for the state land and a high appraisal for the private cabin improvement.
The Payette auctions will be held in Eagle during the first week of April; the Priest auctions will be held in Coeur d’Alene, perhaps by the end of summer.
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