CWI Claims Exemption From Property Appraisal

When the College of Western Idaho announced plans to acquire land on West Main in Boise along the river owned by the family of former car dealer Bob Rice, we were a little concerned about the $8.8 million price tag.

The Ada County Assessor is required to value land at “market value.” County records show the value set for tax purposes is right at $3.5 million. The GUARDIAN contacted Assessor Bob McQuade who double checked with an outside appraiser and his own staff. McQuade concluded the $3.5 million value is in the ball park.

We have received several queries about the $8.8 million purchase price of the property. Boise officials tout the proposed location of the CWI “Boise Campus” as a boon for the new 30th Street urban renewal district. Never mind the 10 acres of land will NEVER generate any tax revenue since it is public.

The GUARDIAN filed a public records request Tuesday for the appraisal used to establish the value of of the land. Vice President for finance and administration Cheryl Wright responded quickly with this:

“Hi Mr. Frazier,

The statute governing CWI’s acquisition of real property (Idaho Code Section 33-601) does not require CWI to obtain an appraisal.

Cheryl Wright
Vice President of Finance and Administration”

Next step was a check of the cited statute which appears to contradict VP Wright’s claim.

The Idaho Code reads in part that districts have authority… “(3) To designate and purchase any real property necessary for school purposes or in the operation of the district, or remove any building, or dispose of any real property. Prior to, but not more than one (1) year prior to, any purchase or disposal of real property, the board shall have such property appraised by an appraiser certified in the state of Idaho, which appraisal shall be entered in the records of the board of trustees and shall be used to establish the value of the real property.”

We may be missing something, but it would appear while the CWI board may have negotiated for the land near the Water Park, they don’t have a certified appraisal and claim they don’t need one.

The entire code section follows here.

33-601. REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY — ACQUISITION, USE OR DISPOSAL OF SAME. The board of trustees of each school district shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) To rent to or from others, school buildings or other property used, or to be used, for school purposes.
(2) To contract for the construction, repair, or improvement of any real property, or the acquisition, purchase or repair of any equipment, or other personal property necessary for the operation of the school district.
Except for the purchase of curricular materials as defined in section 33-118A, Idaho Code, such contract shall be executed in accordance with the provisions of chapter 28, title 67, Idaho Code.
(3) To designate and purchase any real property necessary for school purposes or in the operation of the district, or remove any building, or dispose of any real property. Prior to, but not more than one (1) year prior to, any purchase or disposal of real property, the board shall have such property appraised by an appraiser certified in the state of Idaho, which appraisal shall be entered in the records of the board of trustees and shall be used to establish the value of the real property. The board of trustees shall determine the size of the site necessary for school purposes. The site shall be located within the incorporated limits of any city within the district; provided, however, that if the board finds that it is not in the best interests of the electors and the students of the district to locate the site within the incorporated limits of a city, the board, by duly adopted resolution setting forth the reasons for its finding, may designate a site located elsewhere within the district. In elementary school districts, except upon removal for highway purposes, a site may be designated or changed only after approval of two-thirds (2/3) or more of the electors voting at the annual meeting.
(4) (a) To convey, except as provided by paragraph (b) of this subsection, by deed, bill of sale, or other appropriate instrument, all of the estate and interest of the district in any property, real or personal. In elementary school districts, except such conveyance as is authorized by subsection (6) of this section, any of the transactions authorized in this subsection shall be subject to the approval of two-thirds (2/3) or more of the electors voting at the annual meeting.
Prior to such sale or conveyance, the board shall have the property appraised pursuant to this section, which appraisal shall be entered in the records of the board of trustees. The property may be sold at public auction or by sealed bids, as the board of trustees shall determine, to the highest bidder. Such property may be sold for cash or for such terms and conditions as the board of trustees shall determine for a period not exceeding ten (10) years, with the annual rate of interest on all deferred payments not less than seven percent (7%) per annum. The title to all property sold on contract shall be retained in the name of the school district until full payment has been made by the purchaser, and title to all property sold under a note and mortgage or deed of trust shall be transferred to the purchaser at the point of sale under the terms and conditions of the mortgage or deed of trust as the board of trustees shall determine. Notice of the time and the conditions of such sale shall be published twice, and proof thereof made, in accordance with subsections (2) and (3) of section 33-402, Idaho Code, except that when the appraised value of the property is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), one (1) single notice by publication shall be sufficient and the property shall be sold by sealed bids or at public auction.
The board of trustees may accept the highest bid, may reject any bid, or reject all bids. If the real property was donated to the school district the board may, within a period of one (1) year from the time of the appraisal, sell the property without additional advertising or bidding. Otherwise, the board of trustees must have new appraisals made and again publish notice for bids, as before. During the sealed bid or public auction process, no real property of the school district can be sold for less than its appraised value. If, thereafter, no satisfactory bid is made and received, the board may proceed under its own direction to sell and convey the property for the highest price the market will bear.
The board of trustees may sell personal property, with an estimated value of less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), without appraisal, by sealed bid or at public auction, provided that there has been not less than one (1) published advertisement prior to the sale of said property. If the property has an estimated value of less than five hundred dollars ($500), the property may be disposed of in the most cost-effective and expedient manner by an employee of the district empowered for that purpose by the board, provided however, such employee shall notify the board prior to disposal of said property.
(b) Real and personal property may be exchanged hereunder for other property. Provided, however, that aside from the provisions of this paragraph, any school district may by a vote of one-half (1/2) plus one (1) of the members of the full board of trustees, by resolution duly adopted, authorize the transfer or conveyance of any real or personal property owned by such school district to the government of the United States, any city, county, the state of Idaho, any hospital district organized under chapter 13, title 39, Idaho Code, any cooperative service agency formed pursuant to section 33-317, Idaho Code, any other school district, the Idaho housing and finance association, any public charter school, any library district, any community college district, or any recreation district, with or without any consideration accruing to the school district, when in the judgment of the board of trustees it is for the interest of such school district that said transfer or conveyance be made. Prior to any transfer or conveyance of any real or personal property pursuant to this paragraph (4)(b), the board shall have the property appraised by an appraiser certified in the state of Idaho, which appraisal shall be entered in the records of the board of trustees and shall be used to establish the value of the real or personal property. Provided however, if the board of trustees finds it is in the school district’s best interests to trade personal property to a person or entity for like kind personal property, the board of trustees may vote to elect to do so. The board of trustees may elect to abstain from an appraisal of the personal property if the estimated value of such property is less than five thousand dollars ($5,000).
(5) To enter into contracts with any city located within the boundaries of the school district for the joint purchase, construction, development, maintenance and equipping of playgrounds, ball parks, swimming pools, and other recreational facilities upon property owned either by the school district or the city.
(6) To convey rights-of-way and easements for highway, public utility, and other purposes over, upon or across any school property and, when necessary to the use of such property for any such purpose, to authorize the removal of school buildings to such new location, or locations, as shall be determined by the board of trustees, and such removal shall be made at no cost or expense to the school district.
(7) To authorize the use of any school building or vacant land of the district as a community center, or for any public purpose, and to establish a policy of charges, if any, to be made for such use.
(8) To exercise the right of eminent domain under the provisions of chapter 7, title 7, Idaho Code, for any of the uses and purposes provided in section 7-701, Idaho Code.
(9) If there is a great public calamity, such as an extraordinary fire, flood, storm, epidemic, or other disaster, or if it is necessary to do emergency work to prepare for national or local defense, or it is necessary to do emergency work to safeguard life, health or property, the board of trustees may pass a resolution declaring that the public interest and necessity demand the immediate expenditure of public money to safeguard life, health or property. Upon adoption of the resolution, the board may expend any sum required in the emergency without compliance with this section.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. IdahoCrystal
    Apr 28, 2015, 5:50 pm

    Wondering if this is going to be another one of those ‘subsequent court decisions have rendered various parts (or all) of this statute/rule/code exempt/inadequate/defunct/inapplicable to one or more parties for/to/in which it specifically applies/was written’…?

    EDITOR NOTE–We had the same concerns, hence no allegations of wrong doing…yet.

  2. chicago sam
    Apr 28, 2015, 6:57 pm

    Kind of funny the learned educators haven’t read the law.–While a downtown Boise location at first glance seems like a good idea 10 Acres @ $800,000/Acre means putting a lot of eggs in one basket with no room for expansion. Health and Welfare have several hundred acres within 1 mile of the Nampa campus and it already is tax exempt.

  3. I sometimes wonder why I still live in Boise and then a story like this comes along and I remember. I could be living in St Louis, Fullerton, North Charleston, or even Baltimore. You know places where news is made by events that really mean something in human terms. But alas I live in Idaho a place where we heard our homeless into one area, we tell them to die, but do it someplace else. Our local blogger waxes philosophically about the conspiracy theory behind the local the local community colleges next proposed acquisition. The moronicism (I made that up) behind the big green boxes that somehow made the local bikers safer and traffic flow better. Or the latest in the Beiter ACHD feud. Having relatives with the last name McCoy that last one interests me, not enough shootin though. I remember now why, Dave reminds me of an old lady named Chloe who from her front porch could tell you who was zoomin who, who was behind on their mortgage, and whether that damned town clerk (my mom) was gonna let liquor come to town or not.
    Gotta love ya Dave… you bring back memories

  4. The VP is wrong. They are required to get an appraisal as the code states.

  5. Grumpy oleGuy
    Apr 28, 2015, 11:41 pm

    Since the cited code deals with “Colleges and Universities” as well as the Land Grant University of Idaho; and since the cited code classifies the School for the Deaf, Community Colleges and State Colleges and Universities; and, since the cited code does not provide exceptions; Now, therefore, let it be resolved that the writer of the letter to Mr. Frazier does not know diddle about what she writes.

    Please note the substitution of the word “diddle” for other words which first came to mind.

  6. The original plan was for the current location to serve ALL students and now they want another campus in Boise. When does all this nonsense stop? CWI is a commuter school. Let the students commute it isn’t very far from any point in the valley.

    I can’t wait to vote NO! on their latest bond effort. $23 per $100K of taxable value is not chump change.

  7. Foothills Rider
    Apr 29, 2015, 1:24 pm

    Why is no one commenting about the abysmal reviews this “college” has, and its poor retention and graduation rates? Is this just another means for an entity to collect government money via loans that will go in default at a high rate? The Federal School ID is 042118. Check out for yourself: 10% graduation rate, 50% retention (after one year, only 50% will return). Can someone else here provide stats on where/how graduates are faring? Where are those “other” 50% ending up after the first year, besides lighter in the pocket?

  8. As we learned in Coeur d’Alene when North Idaho College used its Foundation to whiten the college’s public money used to buy the property without the required public vote or judicial confirmation, the appraisal may prove to be meaningless. NIC’s appraisal was prospective; it said if the city and college did this, that, and the other thing, then the value would be (insert inflated value here).

  9. 200,000,000 bond for expansion?!?!?!?

    Please tell CWI to go fish!

  10. Higher ed is largely about the institution and those on the payroll. Much of what is offered at 4-year schools is useless in real life, thus BSU has many useless degrees. Perhaps BSU could make space for their more successful working-class offspring rather than CWI tapping the public again:

  11. chicago sam
    Apr 30, 2015, 6:27 am

    CWI board has recently approved the purchase of 32.5 Acres to add to their Nampa campus. No doubt details will soon emerge.

  12. Foothills–I checked out the records for public jr. colleges in Idaho at

    CWI certainly has by far the worst record. Not sure if it’s just a crappy school or if it’s just new or if they are making promises to students that they can’t keep. I do agree that higher education has become a money grab at the expense of many students and taxpayers. I guess I will have to think hard about $200 million with a questionable record. The Statesman is obviously on board. Big article today.

    Having said that, I get concerned when I read about “useless degrees” at universities. I think that a well rounded education has value for people and society that extends past the ability of a graduate to “cash in.” If we make colleges into trade schools, we will be losing significantly in the number of well rounded citizens.

  13. FMV- What someone is willing to pay for and what someone is willing to sell for.

    That seems to be 8.8 million in this case.

    Guardian, ask any realtor in town and you will find “appraisals” are lame.

    First, an appraisal has to have other recent sales. Are there any other recent 10 acre parcels along the river next to a main arterial road, next to a future park, along the greenbelt, in an expanding area, within Boise City limits, currently sitting empty as asphalt?
    Pretty tough to get an accurate appraisal on that piece.

    Assessor- does anyone think the County Assessor assesses at a true Market Value? When the tax bill comes in the mail, everyone says, “My property is not worth that much!” Then when they go to sell it, they want to ask a skyscraper price for it.

    Let’s compare assessor rates for speculator development land in the foothills, for M3, or Suncor out by Hidden Springs, and compare that to the price Boise paid for “preservation” for the highlands connection, and the wildlife land out toward Lucky Peak.

    If CWI wants to pay 8.8 million, that is the FMV. And the assessor is just behind the market, as will be any appraisal. Nobody ever said the real estate market was fair.

    EDITOR NOTE–I have been told the comp used was for the 15 acre hotel directly across the river…pretty good comp it would seem. Our true concern is the board dealing in a secret meeting on spending $8.8 million. The law SEEMS clear that a certified current appraisal is required. When justification could there be to not have it appraised?

  14. Did the VP cite the right statute? Section 33-601, as quoted by the Guardian, seems only to discuss what the board of trustees of a “school district” must do, including getting an appraisal. But part 4b of the statute distinguishes a “school district” from other kinds of districts, inlcuding a “community college district.” Why do folks think CWI is a “school district”? I’d think it would be a “community college district.” If so, and assuming a “community college district” is not subsumed within the definintion of a “school district,” then the part of 33-601 that requires “school district” board to get an appraisal would not require CWI to get an appraisal.

  15. Certainly an argument The Riverside Hotel, with buildings is not a comp to bare dirt.
    I remain 8.8 is the FMV.

    In any event, the “requirement” of one and not having an appraisal seems to be the misstep.

    And so they didn’t get one- what the penalty? To who?

    EDITOR NOTE–Bingo! Just like most Idaho laws, non-compliance means nothing. They will claim a “stretch” that community colleges can make their own rules.

  16. ThinkItOver
    Apr 30, 2015, 4:59 pm

    Foothills Rider…I accept your challenge…Educating the the citizens of Idaho is like climbing Mount Everest. I’m fairly certain it can’t be done in one day. Lets start with facts.

    Idaho ranks Number 50 in the United States in the amount of money we invest per student.

    In the latest figures available, Idaho ranked 21st in the US for its per-capita spending on highways, and 25th in the nation for its per-capita spending on prisons, but 50th for its investment in education.

    Idaho ranks 46th – College-going rates of high school graduates – directly from high school.

    Idaho ranks 41st – 9th graders chance for college by age 19.

    Idaho ranks 47th – Percent of 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in college.

    Idaho ranks 44th – Graduation rates from college (BA degree in six years).

    Idaho ranks 46th – Retention Rates – First-time college freshman returning their second year.

    I’m starting to think education is not a priority in Idaho. When there is no support or example given to the student when they start college what type of outcome are you expecting? I think it will be a long hard road getting up the mountain that is education. Spend some time outside of Boise and you will get a very different view on the priority of education in this State. In Boise some neighborhoods have a high rate of education. The North and East end are over 70 percent. In Downtown Caldwell only 6% have a college education. I’ll let you guess where the CWI students are coming from.

  17. ThinkItOver: What percentage of jobs in Idaho require more than high school or GED?? So you want em to get 50K of loans so they can drive a truck??

    BTW: Driving a short-haul local truck is a really low stress job that pays well enough to live in the middle of Boise. What do I need a degree for??

  18. Zippo you make a good point about cost benefit analysis for obtaining a college degree.

    But you leave out a few things. What if delivery driver eventually gets sick of that and wants to move up or move on? Lack of a degree limits options.

    And, hopefully a college degree, one which required some economics and accounting classes would help a person avoid future mistakes such as a primary home cash out refi to purchase those RVs and ski boats they always needed only to be caught later with an underwater mortgage and temporarily unemployed.

    Back on topic, appraisals are hard especially when there are no comps. And there really aren’t any comps for that land. However, $800,000 an acre is far far above what other land in the area is valued at. And don’t forget, the greenbelt devalues property because its constant parade of hoodlums. That was an inside joke aimed at a former riverfront owner in the area.

  19. ThinkItOver
    May 1, 2015, 7:58 am

    Zippo. You have made my point. What kind of jobs are available in Idaho? We can’t all drive trucks or you would be getting minimum wage if you had a job at all. You need someone to drive for. Educated work forces attract jobs from industry that pay a higher wage. This is what we have in Idaho:

    According to the Idaho Department of Labor, median household income declined in 25 of Idaho’s 44 counties between 2012 and 2013, Nationally, median household income was unchanged from 2012 to 2013 at just over $53,000. Only nine counties had median household incomes above the statewide median of $46,767.

    Women’s median income in Idaho — or the income at which half of women earn more and half earn less — was $21,908 in 2013, 51st among the 50 states and Washington D.C. Idaho women’s median income rose 2.9 percent from 2012.

    I want better for my children. I was born and raised on a farm in Idaho. I have lived all over the State. I know Boise holds more opportunity than other areas, but what about rural Idaho? You don’t have to travel very far outside of Boise to find median incomes near poverty levels. Why should we be OK with ranking 46th in Income? Are the citizens of Utah, Oregon and Nevada just better and smarter than Idahoans? If we want to compete with our neighbors we have to invest in the future of this State.

  20. Alternate Headline: “While each adminsitrator and trustee of CWI had an appraisal done on their $100,000 to $500,000 home, none thought an appraisal for an $8.8 Million dollar purchase was a good idea.”

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