Is the School Board Nuts?
Maybe it's just me but I was surprised to hear the local school board was in negotiations to purchase land adjacent to the High School. First, I did not know the local school board had the authority to make such large purchases without bringing it to the attention of the local taxpayers for a vote. Second, is this going to be a bond issue to add to our current tax rate, or, is it to be paid for by some secret slush fund the board has been hiding?
Now don't get me wrong, I do think the school district would be well served to own an adjacent two and a half acres of land for future growth. I can think of several worthwhile projects that could be accomplished on the site. An indoor pool to provide the district with the facilities to train a swim team while serving the community with a recreation center comes to mind. And, so does the space for additional classroom space required by the housing boom that hit the area a few years back. Heck, it is nice to just own it so you can control what it will be used for by taking it off the market from other investors. But, here is the rub; the property is assessed for tax purposes for $101,900 and in these economic times no one is buying land. The last purchase of a sizeable piece of land sold was one point six acres. The assessed value of that land was $254,700. It sold for $120,000.
So, tax assessed is not market value. I know this very well. However, in this community homes are selling for about one third of the assessed value. That is because the township paid an outside firm to perform an assessment on all the properties at the height of the housing boom. Zillow, a web based housing site that offers instant home values, had my house marked at $329,000 at the height of the boom and today is says my house is worth $260,000. But, let's forget what the assessed value is and let us focus on land parcels that have recently sold. That is what is called a Comparative Marketing Analysis by real estate agents when you go to sell your home.
If the most recent sale was for $120,000 for a 1.6 acre lot then it goes to reason that a lot 2.5 acres is worth about $185,000. This is based on straight math taking the sales price and dividing it by the size and then multiplying it by the size of the lot you are wishing to purchase. Now, I grant you there are many other variables involved in making a reasonable comparison for the purchase. There is zoning, availability of utilities, and, as always, location that may cause one piece of land to be worth more than another. But, don't you think the company that assessed those properties would have taken it all into consideration?
You tell me. What do you think the taxpayers of Little Egg Harbor should pay for the land located at 154 Giffordtown Lane?