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U-46 approves land sale below minimum price

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46, at its meeting on Monday, June 17, unanimously approved the sale of district-owned land in Bartlett known as the Jacaranda property for $550,000, which is $200,000 under the minimum set by the board just a few months prior.
  The only information provided to the public that evening regarding the sale was the price of $550,000 stated by U-46 CEO Tony Sanders and confirmed by Bruce Phelps, senior business official.
  “That was the highest bid that we received that met our specifications for the Jacaranda property,” Sanders said.
  Sanders said the board was voting on a resolution, which has not been publicly posted, “officiating the sale” of the Jacaranda property that is approximately 12.16 acres according to a March resolution approved by the previous board allowing the land to be put up for auction. The property is located off of Gerber Road and is adjacent to Hawk Hollow Elementary School.
  In March, the board approved of the resolution which set a minimum sale price. That resolution stated: “The minimum sale price for the Real Estate shall be $750,000.00.”
  Despite the sale being $200,000 less than what the board set as a minimum, there were no questions asked or discussion by the board prior to the vote. Current board members John Devereux, Sue Kerr, Veronica Noland, Melissa Owens and Donna Smith were all on the board when that minimum price was set and all except Noland, who was absent for the vote, voted for that resolution.
  The Examiner did ask the district for some details regarding the sale.
  Mary Fergus, director of school and community relations, confirmed “that the sale went through auction, it was publicized through the auction house and there was a minimum floor price.” The district used AW Global Properties which Fergus said “specializes in this market area for selling buildings and property. They have access to thousands of potential properties.”
  Who purchased the property and how many bids were submitted on the property were not answered by the district.
  Illinois School Code does allow school boards to set minimum auction prices, and if that price is not met they can seek other options to sell the property. Section 5-22 states: “If a school board specifies a reasonable minimum selling price and that price is not met or if no bids are received, the school board may adopt a resolution determining or directing that the services of a licensed real estate broker be engaged to sell the property for a commission not to exceed 7 [percent], contingent on the sale of the property within 120 days.”
  Jeff King, deputy superintendent of operations, confirmed that same process in March.
  “If the auction is not fruitful, then at that point we can make the decision to select a company to help us market the property, but the way the law is written we have to go through an auction process first,” King said.
  Regarding the $750,000 minimum price, former board member Phil Costello asked if that figure came from an appraisal which King confirmed it had.
  U-46 has attempted to sell the property for a while but has had to go through negotiations with the Village of Bartlett. King said in March: “Selling public property is a very complex process due to all the laws that are in place. It took us quite a while to work with the village to solidify what they needed and wanted to see out of it. That took us almost a year.”
  The $550,000 sale price is not only below the minimum sale price set by the board earlier this year, it’s just over a third of the lands appraisal value from a few years earlier when the district attempted to sell the property in 2015 with part of the stated purpose for the sale being to fund the implementation of full-day kindergarten throughout the district.
  In 2015, a previous board voted on a resolution to allow for the land to be auctioned which initially set a minimum sale price of $900,000 with King saying, at that time, that the number was an “estimate before we had the appraisal finished” and was based off a “previous offer” on the land. The minimum price in that resolution was increased after the land was appraised at a value of $1.5 million.
  The 2015 resolution stated: “The minimum sale price for the Real Estate shall be $1,250,000.00, which is approximately 81 [percent] of the appraised value of the real estate set forth in the written certified appraisal.”
  The $550,000 sale price may also be under the amount of funds spent by U-46 to prepare the property to be sold according to Bartlett officials.
  In January of 2018, Village President Kevin Wallace asked at the time for an estimate on how much U-46 had spent in terms of infrastructure to prepare the land for sale to which Jim Plonczynski, the village’s former community development director, said “several hundred thousands of dollars easy” and possibly up to $750,000.
  The Village Board of Trustees approved of a planned unit development proposal in February 2018 that set plans for 15 single-family homes as part of the Jacaranda Subdivision.




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