Community Opinion

Column: Underhill Property purchase revisited


At the June 21 Community Meeting at the Pine Grove, the City attempted to once again portray the 1.75 million dollar property purchase as a financially good decision.
By Randy Kugler
It was cited that the County’s market value for tax assessment purposes in 2017 was approximately 2 million dollars. The market values that all Counties assign to property within their jurisdiction are rough estimates of value and not meant to be a substitute for a current appraisal. Given staffing constraints, County appraisers can go many years without even visiting a property and therefore do not have the ability to develop realistic values or do any analysis that reflect current market conditions. What also wasn’t mentioned was that the 2 million dollar figure included the value of the buildings that the City planned to demolish.
When attempting to determine current property value either as a seller or buyer, you get an appraisal done by a qualified appraiser who understands what your objectives are in either selling or acquiring the property. The City did not retain an appraiser to represent the public’s interest as the purchaser of the property.
The City did mention that the seller’s appraisal done in 2015 valued the property at $1.76 million dollars. A seller will obtain an appraisal as they prepare to take their property to market and their appraiser understands that their job is to create a value that puts the property in the best possible light to benefit their client. The appraiser estimated that the seller could sell 50’ x 100’ building lots for between $130,000-$180,000. Actual lot sales adjacent to the Underhill property for 50’ x 100’ building lots are $105,000 further lowering the property’s $1.76 million estimated value.
The City’s negligence in not obtaining its own appraisal became even more obvious when the appraiser estimated that the cost to remove asbestos and demolish the buildings would only be $20,000. After the purchase, the City’s consultants estimated these costs would be $380,000.
Applying these now known figures since the City acquired the property; you get a market value of approximately $1,200,000. Also, no mention of the $203,000 interest payment on the loan to purchase the property.
The City will tell you just enough to create a picture favorable to further their goals. Do you believe you got a good value for your money and are you willing to vote to give the City another $6 – 8 million to spend on this project?
Randy Kugler is a former Manzanita City Manager who participated on the city hall project advisory committee