posted on July 12, 2007 17:02
Ten months ago, a local developer signed a contract to buy thirty-two acres in Wake County (for $2.5 million). He purchased the land on June 6. And sold it the next day for $3.3 million. In other words, he contracted to buy the land, then found a second buyer, then flipped it and made a profit. Which normally wouldn’t have made the newspapers at all, unless in an article – probably favorable to the developer – in the business section.
But this transaction landed on the front page of The News and Observer's “City and State” section. Because the buyer was the School Board which (along with the County Commissioners) is now in a quandary.
No one, absolutely no one, the School Board members (and the County Commissioners) say told them about the flip. They had no idea they were paying $750,000 more for the land than the developer paid the day before.
The News and Observer promptly asked Assistant Superintendent of the School Board, Michael Burriss, why the board wasn’t told. Mr. Burriss said, “I would have to ask Betty Parker” – the school system’s director for real estate services. But Ms. Parker decided she didn’t care to explain. Citing her busy schedule she refused to be interviewed. With the press giving the School Board the third degree the staff headed for the tall grass.
Then, the pot boiled over, again. Last week the School Board asked the County Commissioners to approve two more land purchases. But this time the Commissioners said, No. No way. No how. Nix. They weren’t approving anymore land deals without having an independent appraisal, first, to be sure they weren’t paying too much. Then they adjourned – which led Ms. Parker to interrupt her busy schedule to make a statement. Waiting for an appraisal and the Commissioner’s next meeting, she said, was unacceptable. The land deals might slip away.
To their credit the County Commissioners wouldn’t be stampeded. They’re sticking to their guns.
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