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LTE – Suzanne Van Mele – 1-2-2013

Say no to the sale of the St. Croix County Farm

A county board resolution has been proposed to auction off 500 acres of the Saint Croix County farm, to fund relocation of the 911 Center and replace the Health and Human Services building, and specifically not fund construction of the new Nursing Home. Yes, farm land is increasing in value. But it doesn’t compare to the potential value of this property, already one third within the City of New Richmond, selling as development land after the new River Crossing at Stillwater has been completed.

First of all, this quick auction calls for establishing a minimum bid based upon the opinion of the auctioneer selling it. One wonders how an opinion of value can be unbiased when it’s rendered by the auctioneer that will gain a commission on the sale. The county should be getting the unbiased appraisal of a licensed commercial appraiser at the time of the sale, to determine its value based upon its highest and best use.

It should not be sold now. The commercial market is not good. For example, the Hudson Tourist Information Center recently sold to the highest bidder for far less than its appraised value. It was appraised for the state at $2.6 million and sold to a developer for $1.3 million It is currently under request to change its zoning to commercial.

If this 500 acres on a 4-lane highway with the new St. Croix River Crossing coming soon, was your own property, would you put it up for auction when the market is low or sell it without an unbiased appraisal to determine its value? No, I think not. To sell this county asset this way shows a lack of common sense and responsibility to the fiduciary interests of the taxpayer. County board, vote no to this proposal on January 8th.

Suzanne Van Mele
Hudson, WI