Community college purchases land at twice assessed value



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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The College of Western Idaho has purchased a 10-acre plot of land for $8.8 million — twice the value assigned to it for tax purposes.

"If I had it to do all over again, I would have looked at the tax assessment and would have asked for the appraisal," said the community college's board chairwoman, Mary Niland. "All I can tell you is we didn't think about it. It was a mistake, and we are accountable for that."

Still, Niland and board member Emily Walton defended the purchase price, saying it was fair value for land near downtown Boise.

"I think the seller can say, 'Well, you guys don't want it for $8.8 million, so we'll find someone else who wants it,'" Walton said.

Niland said the board looked at several properties over 18 months before making a decision and developing a good feel for what properties were worth.

Board vice president Guy Hurlbutt said he didn't think an assessment would have made much difference.

"The nature of the location was superb for us," he said.

CWI bought the former Ford dealership property west of downtown along the Boise River for a planned campus.

The college hopes to raise public support for a $150 million bond for a permanent Boise campus as well as a student center and health sciences center at its campus in Nampa. Voters would have to approve a bond with a two-thirds majority.

Bert Glandon, college president, said the college has six months to perform a due-diligence review before taking possession of the property. He said the college was looking for an area to build an urban campus near downtown Boise, and the purchased property fulfilled that goal.

"There is no 10 acres in downtown Boise," Glandon said.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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The Associated Press

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