City accepts bids for lots

Published 2:45 am Tuesday, May 22, 2007

By Staff
Council amends Smith’s contract
Contributing Editor
Although the auction of 16 city-owned lots didn’t raise as much money as desired, Washington’s City Council last week approved accepting bids on those lots.
Bids for the lots totaled $85,000. After paying $8,500 to the company that auctioned the lots, the city’s net revenues from the sale of the lots will be $76,500. City officials had hoped the lots would bring in about $122,000. The assessed values of the lots came to $121,392.
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.
With the lots not bringing in as much revenue as hoped for, that leaves the city looking for a way to close the gap between expected revenues and actual revenues.
Smith said the prime lots on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive did not bring in as much money as expected.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette indicated she believes the city should have used another method to sell the lots.
Councilman Archie Jennings made a motion to reject the bids and “fall back to” other methods of selling the lots. Councilman Mickey Gahagan seconded the motion for the purpose of discussion. Gahagan wondered if the council could approve some bids and reject others. He also suggested the matter be tabled until the council’s May 21 budget workshop, but that suggestion went unheeded.
Jennings’ motion failed on a 4-1 vote, with Jennings voting for it. Ed Gibson, Richard Brooks, Darwin Woolard and Gahagan voted against it.
A motion to not accept the bids failed because only two of the five council members — Jennings and Ed Gibson — voted for the motion.
The motion to accept the bids passed with a 4-1 vote, with Jennings voting against it.
In other business, the council amended the city’s employment agreement with City Manager James C. Smith, who began his duties in Washington in January 2006. The change terminates Smith’s disability insurance policy, which was paid for by the city, and places an amount of money equal to the cost of that policy into Smith’s International City Management Association Retirement Corporation account.
The city benefits from the change because the cost of a disability policy increases with age and compensation increases, according to city officials. 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 a city document.