Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Burchett on land sale: hero or goat?

Knox County is on its way out of the mulch business, now that county Mayor Tim Burchett sold the Solway plant.

So, is he a hero or a goat?

(Damn, I just can’t resist that quote. County Property Assessor Phil Ballard used it the other day, I blogged about it, and , yeah, I like Phil, but that quote? Hahahahaha. That was a good one. But I digress.)

Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yeah, earlier today, Natural Resources Recovery of Tennessee was the high bidder ($2 million in scratch) to buy the 160-acre Solway plant.

And people reacted.

Some loved the deal; some used it to attack the mayor.

Interestingly, I talked to a number of Burchett supporters who didn’t like it, some opponents who did, and vice versa and all that.

In other words, it was a polarizing move.

Some thought (and rightly so) that the economy wasn’t right to sell the land. But, they also felt that the county – besides the bad timing – didn’t get enough for what it put into it. They didn’t, however, mention NRRT and some of the controversies that have surrounded the company in the past.

The other school of thought is that the mayor did the right thing. And in fact – because he got $800,000 more than the land was appraised – he REALLY did the right thing.

Here’s the deal:

The county, including the initial land purchase, has spent $4 million on the property during the past 12 years. That includes the upkeep, improvements, fixing sinkholes, whatever, that ran about $245,000 a year. The county received, on average, about $72,000 a year under the contract it had with NRRT.

So, it’s easy to see why folks don’t think it was a great move. But, as the county’s financial minister – John Troyer – pointed out: That IS one heck of a reason to get rid of the property!

(On a side note, the county commission awhile back debated whether the property could be used for anything other than a recycling facility and felt it couldn’t. But that’s a different argument.)

Putting the property back on the tax roll at this point means about an extra $18,880 in coin that heads to the county coffers. That’s not a lot when you compare it to the overall budget, which is somewhere just south of a zillion dollars.

But the plan is to use the money from the sale to buy the Carter community a new elementary school (this is also a different argument about whether it should be used for that), which will run close to $14 million. So, the top bid – that $2 million? – that is a lot if you want to purchase a new school.

So. Hero? Goat? Or just another dumb blog post?

(Heh. I know the answer to this one.)


Anonymous said...

mike- is it a straight out sale or is the county via the HEH or IDB financing the deal? thanks.

Mike Donila said...

pretty sure it's a straigh out sale as i was told all the money - entire $2 million goes straight to general fund, but i can check.

Anonymous said...

well, all the money would still go to the county even if one of our many bonding issurers were to arrange funding via a bond sale. this is after a industrial at heart.

Anonymous said...

and remember the 72k a year was a minimum.....during peak times it would have been more like '18k a month', so where are we? Even? Hardly.

Same players, same benefit to NRRT under control of Vandevate, Salter and Holt.

Crime does pay I guess.

And remember, Mayes was not suing the county, but suing on behalf of the county to recover funds from NRRT....but the powers that be, Vandevate, Salter, Holt, etc. just felt this was not right.

Anonymous said...

Was there park land involved? If so, was the deed recorded. If so, was the sale deed restricted?

How about it Mike? Can you find out?