Archive for Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Debate continues over price of land

May 25, 2005

The ball soon will be back in the school district's court.

For the past several weeks, city and school officials have bounced proposals back and forth centering on how much each is willing to spend on infrastructure improvements at the site of the new middle school.

In November, school district patrons approved a $25.3 million bond issue that would pay for construction of a new middle school near Pleasant and Washington streets, as well as finance work at the elementary school, high school and junior high.

On Monday, city council members said they were frustrated with the school district's recent proposals -- one that was received last week, followed by another one on Monday.

The city and school district are negotiating on several points, including how much the district will contribute to the construction of a new water tower, how much the city should pay the district for additional street right of way and how much the city should pay the district for land to construct the water tower.

The biggest sticking point to date, though, is the price the district wants the city to pay for 1.66 acres of land, where the city plans to construct the water tower.

The city offered to pay between $8,000 and $10,000 an acre, according to City Administrator Mike Yanez.

On Friday, the city received a letter from the district that priced the land at $10,000 to $12,000 an acre, for a total of $19,920. Then on Monday, the district revised those figures -- upward -- to between $60,000 and $65,000, for a total of $100,000.

"I don't understand," said council member Ron Cranor.

Council member Velda Roberts said she believes the city should offer to pay between $12,000 and $15,000 an acre, based on the county assessor's valuation.

She also said that the school district has a much larger valuation base over which to spread its costs: $61.2 million for the school district vs. $25.4 million for the city.

Council member Jason Ward said he wanted more information from the district.

"I don't like the change in numbers, without any sort of objective guidance as to how they were calculated," Ward said.

The council directed City Administrator Mike Yanez to offer to pay $13,500 an acre for the water tower land.

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