CWI Board Chair Admits Appraisal Mistake

Mary Niland, chairperson of the College of Western Idaho board, told the Idaho Statesman Thursday, “If I had it to do all over again, I would have looked at the tax assessment and would have asked for the appraisal. All I can tell you is we didn’t think about it. It was a mistake, and we are accountable for that.”

The GUARDIAN raised the issue of failure to obtain an appraisal in a Tuesday POST about purchase of land at 30th and Main in Boise. The deal calls for CWI to pay more than double the $3.6 million value set by the Ada County Assessor. CWI has agreed to pay $8.8 million, but has not released documents requested by the GUARDIAN under the freedom of information law.

The legacy media joined us in questioning CWI officials who claim the institution does not need to follow Idaho Code 33-601 which appears to REQUIRE appraisals for property acquisition.

Despite the public apology by Niland and other board members, they stand behind their decision to pay $5.2 million more than the assessed value. Property values are a moving target, but the Ada assessor has a record of hitting that target within a 96% accuracy rate, according to the Idaho Tax Commission.

We would like to see an independent appraisal of the old Bob Rice Ford lot. Had the CWI board taken the time to check the value themselves, they would have been positioned to get a much better price during their secret negotiations.

Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN awaits the documents we requested earlier in the week. When they come in, we will share any news.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. So CWI is like all other “give me money” public agencies….they know it is easier to ask for forgiveness than get permission. Or share all the real data upfront in sight of the public?

    Guess you have to go to a really big college to know that it is a fundamental, basic action to get an appraisal BEFORE you buy property…or are they just paying the Rice kids twice the appraised value because they are just really nice people?

    Did any of these people work for the mayor of Boise or the convention board? sic 🙁

  2. Grumpy ole Guy
    Apr 30, 2015, 10:58 pm

    Keep their feet to the fire, please.

  3. It’s always easier to spend other people’s money. There’s only a few dozen people in the club. All serve on multiple boards. They always put a high profile media person on the board too to insure positive coverage of the community-organizing bilking.

    Voter apathy is the root cause of all these funny-money local deals.

  4. “I would have looked at the tax assessment…”

    Are you serious? They didn’t even look at the tax assessment? It takes less than 2 minutes to look that up on the internet or via a phone call to Ada County.

    I may bluster a lot but I rarely, if ever, make direct personal attacks but here it is: Mary, you need to resign. If you worked for me I would fire you. Because if you can’t take 2 minutes to look up an appraisal then what else are you cutting corners on?

    FWIW, land in the area goes for about $100k per acre. Triple that for the river frontage and we still only arrive at just over $3 million. Ada County’s assessment is spot on.

  5. I think I found CWI’s legal way to get out of this ripoff of a contract…

    …A person who lacks mental capacity can void, or have a guardian void, most contracts (except contracts for necessities). In most states, the standard for mental capacity is whether the party understood the meaning and effect of the words comprising the contract or transaction. This is called the “cognitive” test…

    The folks who entered this contract obviously lacked mental capacity.

  6. The article in the paper mentions that the deal depends on a “due diligence” review. I believe that refers to time required to investigate potential environmental risks. Give the long-time use as an auto dealership before stringent EPA regs, it wouldn’t surprise me if they found some. Perhaps Bob Rice removed any underground tanks and cleaned up any spills, I don’t know. And I bet CWI doesn’t either.

  7. IdahoCrystal
    May 1, 2015, 10:42 am

    IPT ran the headline that CWI doesn’t need an appraisal but failed to say why or describe on what their lawyers are basing that exemption. One might think it reasonable for a journalist to inquire beyond “Because they said so…” if for no other reason than a basic fact check.

    EDITOR NOTE–In defense of IPT reporter Kelcie Mosely, she did cite Idaho Code 33-2107. That is a lame excuse on the part of officials. The section also says they have to get appraisals for SALES, but didn’t mention purchase. Intent of the law is to mirror “school districts” and that does indeed require appraisal for PURCHASE. We predict an appraisal will be forthcoming.

  8. Rod in SE Boise
    May 1, 2015, 11:17 am

    She said “….we are accountable for that…”. HOW are you accountable for that?

  9. “the Ada assessor has a record of hitting that target within a 96% accuracy, according to the Idaho Tax Commission.”

    What does that mean?
    96% of the time they are within 50% +/- of the actual sale price?
    Or 96% of they don’t have any disputes? pretty vague.

    A challenge would be to sample 100 random actual sales for year-to-date 2015 and see the sales price/assessment comparison.

    I bet 100% of the properties have an assessed value more than 10% lower than sale price; and 20% of them would be more than 20% lower; and 5%+ would more than 30% lower. But that’s because I’m not a Tax Commission person in kahootz with the counties.

    EDITOR NOTE–Ada assessor claims the state tax folks say they are within market value 96% of the time as i read it.

  10. Grumpy ole Guy
    May 1, 2015, 7:04 pm

    Is there a recall provision for the Commissioners of CWI?

    Such a move might bring better attention to pesky details like following the law.

    EDITOR NOTE–Idaho elected officials are just about impossible to recall. The law requires a petition signed by 20% of the REGISTERED voters…we can’t get that number to vote in total, let alone for or against anything. Used to be 20% of those who voted in last election, but too many petitions got circulated.

  11. Vote NO on any bond elections until this board is gone. They are all people who have no respect for taxpayers. How could they not take the time to find out some basic facts about this piece of property via an appraisal. NO way will I support a bond election with these people in charge of spending my tax dollars.

  12. Easier to ask for forgiveness than get permission (or do the right thing). Sad use of public funds.

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