At the April 15 Scotts Valley City Council meeting, Mayor Randy Johnson commented on the purchase of the Ow and Van Kregten properties in the Town Center plan area. The mayor claims the city paid a fair price for these properties. The reality is that the city overpaid for both properties.
The city paid $100,000 more than the $920,000 the Van Kregten property was appraised at more than a year ago. And now, a year later, in one of the most severe real estate recessions since World War II, the city paid the same price per square foot for the Ow property, per the mayor’s own words. This, even though developed property values in our area are between 20 percent and 40 percent lower than they were a year ago. Undeveloped commercial land is off in value by even more. And the city has no appraisal for the Ow property.
What could the city have done with the money saved from the purchase price paid for these properties? Let’s put things in perspective. If the city had paid even 25 percent less than the $2.68 million for the Ow property and $50,000 less than the $1.02 million for the Van Kregten property, the savings would have been in excess of $700,000. This is equivalent to about 10 percent of the city’s annual budget.
It was fiscally irresponsible for the City Council to purchase the Ow property with no appraisal. This transaction was nothing less than an abrogation of fiduciary responsibility by this City Council majority.
Where is the due diligence? Where is transparency?
Johnson said that the city had to spend affordable housing funds or lose them. How about spending these funds wisely and well?
The council majority is on a mission. But at what cost to local taxpayers?
Frank Z. Kertai, Scotts Valley

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