A big pat on the back to Kuna planning director Steve Hasson and city treasurer John Marsh. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, seriously.
John and Steve did an admirable job at last week’s town hall meeting to go over details of a proposed $5 million bond to buy a new city hall and adjacent 11 acres of land and build an indoor swimming pool. About 50 to 60 people showed up to ask questions, show support and register complaints — some angry complaints.
I think Steve and John did an excellent job of fielding questions and responding to complaints. They were able to answer some questions and acknowledge questions that are still unanswerable.
The problem, though, is that last week’s meeting was about six months too late. The city began the planning process for a new city hall back in April — with a couple of closed-door executive sessions. What they should have done first was start with public input and questions. Doing research and crunching numbers 12 days before a major election is just too late — and their analysis a dollar short.
In my book, there are still way too many questions unanswered. In addition, as evidenced from last week’s public outcry, the city didn’t receive enough input from the public.
One of the biggest arguments in favor of a new city hall at this time is that buying something in a recession is the best time to do it, when property values are way down.
It’s just like the woman with four children and one on the way said at Thursday’s town hall meeting: “The recession has been awesome for us.” She said they have been able to buy a house at a low price at a great interest rate.
Yep, buying when the market is down is very smart indeed.
Except the city still hasn’t proven that $1.08 million for an 8,000-square-foot building shell is a depressed value. Is that a good deal? I don’t know. The city doesn’t know. And despite what Steve said at last week’s town hall, the city still has not done an appraisal on the building. They haven’t even received a real estate opinion on the price. And as far as I can tell, the city didn’t even really negotiate the price. Could we get it for $950,000? Could we get it for $750,000? After all, it’s been vacant for two years now.
Now, the city did receive a real estate broker’s opinion on the $45,000 per acre on the 11 acres of land, and the opinion says to the effect that, yeah, that’s not a totally crazy price, maybe a little high, but not out of the realm of possibility. Again, not what you’d call a snatch-it-up-in-this-depressed-market type of a price. Could we get it for, say, $20,000 per acre?
So, in my mind, the biggest argument for buying now is kind of thrown out the window.
I have more thoughts and details in this week's Kuna Melba News.