In a matter of just a few days the Bernalillo County Commission not only approved the sale of almost $41 MILLION in bonds to pay for a new home for themselves but sold the bonds. We've never seen government work quite as quickly as the commission did in this particular case. It's been our experience that when government works with this kind of alacrity it's either under attack from terrorists or doing something that the voters wouldn't approve of.
Tuesday, the Journal decided to do a little story on the purchase that questioned whether or not the property was worth the $40.8 MILLION (plus another $1 MILLION for the art) the county was so quick to pay. Apparently the property has increased $21.1 MILLION in just eight years. That's almost twice the building's year 2000 value (ABQ Journal - Subscription).
We're not really questioning the value even though it appears that the county is paying almost $12 MILLION too much. The owner of the building has the right to sell their property at whatever price the market will bear and as P.T. Barnum once said, there's a sucker born every minute - in this case four of them.
The county claims that it can raise $30 MILLION by selling their half of the current City County Government Center to the city. But unlike the owner of the property at 500 Marquette, the county has only one buyer that would be interested in purchasing their share of the property. If the city is smart (you can stop laughing now) they'll simply wait until the county is desperate to sell and get the other half of the government center at a rock bottom price.
The value of the property is just one problem and believe it or not it's not the most distressing one. The biggest problem is that the county is acting as if they found the building on the checkout isle at Wal Mart. They neither studied the purchase nor demonstrated a need for the property. Makes one wonder who has studied it and who really benefits from what can only be called a $42 MILLION impulse buy.
Whoever brokered this sale has all of the talents of P.T. Barnum himself. They've managed play the county and the county commission for suckers. Unfortunately, we're the ones paying the price of admission.