Council considers lot offers

Published 1:02 am Saturday, May 12, 2007

By Staff
Property bids not as high as desired by city
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, will consider accepting bids for 16 city-owned lots sold at auction April 28.
The council has 30 days from the day it received the report on the auction to accept or reject the bids. Once the council has accepted the bids, properties must be closed within 30 days.
If the council accepts the bids, the city’s net revenues from the sale of the lots will be $76,500. Bids for the lots totaled $85,000. City officials had hoped the lots would bring in about $122,000. The assessed values of the lots came to $121,392. The auction fee to be paid by the city comes to $8,500.
The bids left council members and other city officials somewhat disappointed.
Woolard expects the council will accept the bids.
With the city selling the land to private owners, the properties will generate tax revenues for the city. The council had been counting on revenue from the sale of the lots to help balance the budget for the current fiscal year.
During budget deliberations last spring, council members determined they could avoid increasing the property-tax rate by an additional two cents if the city sold the lots for close to their assessed values. A penny on the tax rate generates about $55,000 in revenue.
In the spring of 2006, Washington officials began looking at selling several lots the city owns in an effort to help cut recurring expenses associated with the lots and add some money to the city’s revenue stream. During budget sessions last spring, council members discussed the possibility of the city divesting itself of the lots. In addition to bringing in additional revenue, the city would save money because it would not have to maintain those lots, council members said.
The council also will consider amending its employment agreement with City Manager James C. Smith, who began his duties in Washington in January 2006.
The amendment would terminate Smith’s disability insurance policy, which is paid for by the city, and place an amount of money equal to the cost of that policy into Smith’s International City Management Association Retirement Corporation account.
Smith has no plans to retire, but he has reached the minimum age at which, in the event of a disability, he would be more likely to take an early retirement than draw disability payments, according to the document.
The council will conduct a second reading of a request to change the rezoning classification of 23.68 acres on the south side of Dan Taylor Road from RA-20 to R-15S.
During its April 16 meeting, the council voted 3-2 to change the zoning classification from residential agricultural to residential single family. The R-15S designation allows for smaller lots than the RA-20 designation. Council members Richard Brooks, Mickey Gahagan and Ed Gibson voted to change the classification. Council members Archie Jennings and Darwin Woolard voted against the change.
Because changing the zoning classification would result in changing the city’s ordinances, state law requires a two-thirds majority of the council to approve the change. The 3-2 vote did not meet that “super majority” requirement, so the attempt to change the zoning classification failed.
At Monday’s meeting, a simple majority vote can change the zoning classification.
Several people who attended the April 16 meeting opposed the change.
The council also will conduct a public hearing on the city’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. That hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The council meets in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St., Washington. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m.