We are back for 2014…. The Township of Langley pays Trinity Western University 80% ($1.2 million) OVER assessed value! The three independent appraisals TELL the rest of the story…….

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

The blind, irresponsible self-serving spending actions of this Council and staff continue unabated! Your elected Municipal Council has a fiduciary responsibility to protect tax payer dollars; if they don’t and you don’t hold them to account, it is your fault!

Thanks to Kent Spencer of the Vancouver Province (below) and his Front Page breaking news story of October 15th 2013, our eyes were opened to another very questionable land deal by the Township of Langley. The defense offered by Mayor Jack Froese, the Township of Langley and Trinity Western University was that this value, the purchase price, was supported by three independent appraisals. Well, this was not supported by the B.C. Assessment Authority. (Kent Spencer/The Province/Wednesday Oct. 23rd, 2013/2/3rd Page – A6) The question, WHY?

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) for those three independent appraisals

TELLS THE REST OF THE STORY……     Some would suggest it tells the REAL STORY!

First the issue (in headline form) –

The Province / Tuesday October 15th 2013 – FRONT PAGE and Full Page 3

“Giving Money Away”

Township spent $2.7 million buying land that Trinity Western University had received for free. (Kent Spencer – The Province)

 

The Province / Friday October 18th, 2013 – 1/3rd page Page A6

Council not told land value: Richter (Kent Spencer – The Province)

 

The Province / Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – 2/3rd page – Page A6

B.C. Assessment won’t use sale price (Kent Spencer – The Province)

 

Story Recap on langleywatchdog.com BLOG Post Posted November 5th, 2013

Township of Langley Property Deals and land use applications… Are you following the news? The STENCH from these issues is palpable and rising…. Then there is Richter’s response…. And we shouldn’t worry about our Council? What can I say?

 

So what do these appraisals tell us?

Important Pre-amble –

As you will see in the following, I am being very careful in my wording that follows in this BLOG Post. These Appraisal Reports offer warnings against any reproduction which I am sure has more to do with proprietary information (background and other) that they provide. Nevertheless there is a right for the public to have an answer(s) to questions as follows.  

The APPRAISALS –

As the previous Newspaper reports have indicated, the purchase price of this property has to be considered very questionable at best. All of this left the public with only one question to ask? WHY did the taxpayer pay $1.2 million (80%) over the B.C. Assessment price? The approximate equivalent to a 1 ½% Property Tax Increase.

To try to answer that question a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was filed requesting copies of the three independent appraisals on which this purchase price was based. They have been received and thoroughly reviewed. On their point that the appraisals supported the price paid by the parties, they are correct as far as that goes.

I must add at this time that I will not identify the appraisal companies, nor do I criticize them for the job that they performed in any way. All three are solid reputable firms who provided substantive reports that provided the professional service they were contracted to provide. However there lies the question and in my view the problem, the service they were contracted to provide was based on what instructions and/or Terms of Reference they were given?

The resulting answer of any commissioned appraisal or appraisals will be based on the terms of reference, instructions and directions provided by the principle(s), in this case the Township of Langley and Trinity Western University. Did they want a Market Value appraisal ie based on the current municipal zoning and approved Municipal and Regional land use OR an appraisal based some speculative and/or some anticipated, presumptive increase (improvement) to that zoning and/or land use? That was the case in these appraisals – they were to be based on purely speculative conditions that did not exist at time of sale, and there lies the problem! Frankly it should leave all of us residents, who have to pay the price of these decisions with ONE question – what is going on at City Hall?

IMPORTANT – It is very important to note that a given Council cannot bind a future Council to any decision they might make. Ie A future Council can always change bylaws or future policy.

The Questions I have below are for taxpayers and the Township of Langley, they are not of concern to the companies providing the appraisals, they did their job?

  • The Three Appraisals used are dated August 2011? Why mid-2011 when the sales were concluded mid-2012? Why weren’t they updated?
  • The properties included in the sale to the Township are part of the proposed University District proposal which has been declined by Metro Vancouver and is now before the courts? Why and who approved it prior to this legal issue being settled? This court decision will be instrumental on this property’s value, yet they concluded the agreement, prior to any decision rendered by the judiciary? This sale was NOT a conditional sale, it was firm.
  • The properties included in the sale to the Township of Langley (above) is based on a dramatic change in it’s permitted land use? How and why? This has not been legally approved.
  • The retained property by the private property owner considers the potential for a substantive change in the OCP and zoning. Again this was not a conditional sale. Why and under what and who’s authority, given any changes would have to go through a significant public process by this or a future government, did the Township conclude this agreement?
  • How does and why would the Township of Langley participate in a process that would inflate the value of property it wanted to purchase?
  • Is it not a conflict of interest for both the buyer (Township) and the seller (Trinity) to share the cost of the appraisals?
  • Then there is the Councilor Kim Richter public offering to The Province article by Kent Spencer –

It was very clear that the Township of Langley and Trinity University used the three independent appraisals as their defense for concluding this property agreement.

In response to the first news story about this land (above), Councilor Kim Richter, an experienced (close to 15 year, 5 term Councilor) is quoted extensively in this feature with the following:

Councilor Kim Richter doesn’t believe council was told it was buying land for 80% over it’s assessed value in 2012.

  • What an amazing statement – A Councilor with her experience and years of service coming up with this. Ask the question Ms. Richter ask the question!!!! It is your fiduciary responsibility as an elected representative of the taxpayer to ensure we get value for money. Just maybe residents will stop being fooled by your fluffy meaningless questions followed up with no follow through and no answers in open council. They are and have been nothing but a smokescreen for years! It is amazing what you can find out when you challenge staff reports; WHEN are you going to start, and mean it? How much damage has to be done to this community before members of council wake up and start doing the job they were elected to do?

“From my perspective it seems like quite a gap” said Richter.

  • Do you think Ms. Richter? 80% (or $1.2 million higher) equates to about a 1.5% tax increase. $1.2 million (based on speculative assumptions) that is gone for good thanks to the incompetence of this council. Was Council told about the conditions laid out in these appraisals? A million here, a million there, pretty soon you are talking real money! Unconscionable!

Richter “wasn’t aware that the costs of the Appraisal were shared with Trinity?” Was Council? It then becomes a serious issue of conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest.

  • Obviously further proof of the incompetence of this council. Appraisals and the details behind them are not questioned. Were they explained? How convenient!

Richter says she will ask to see the full Appraisal documents?

  • The silence has been deafening Ms. Richter, have you seen them?
  • Ms. Richter, we got tired of waiting for you to get to the bottom of this or to release them so we proceeded with an FOI request. Another case of wasted newspaper ink explaining your stated concerns.

“If this deal had not (already) been implemented, I definitely would have been asking for more information. Can we undo it? NO – Can we learn from it? YES – Would we do it again? Absolutely NOT” stated Richter.

  • The old 20 / 20 hindsight routine? Ms. Richter, are you now speaking for other members of council when you say it won’t happen again? That would be an interesting meeting to sit in on!!! We could sell tickets to that event.

The more interesting question is, has it happened before???

Some of us know the answer to that question don’t we!

Given what happened in this case there should be a Forensic Audit of all Real Estate transactions over the past 10 plus years. But who on Council will have the guts to raise that prospect!

 The Province / Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – 2/3rd page – Page A6

B.C. Assessment won’t use sale price (Kent Spencer – The Province)

In a follow up news item dealing with the questionable Appraisal stated the following:

The valuation of the property lies at the heart of the controversy and on Tuesday, Trevor Brown, senior appraiser at B.C. Assessment expanded broadly on his reasons for believing the land was only worth $1.5 million.

He said the Township paid so much over the assessed value that the amount will not be used to determine future assessed values.

“We could not use that purchase price as market evidence for setting assessments” said Brown.

Through the course of the article he explains why this property is assessed the way it is through outlining a description of the property and by comparing six large agricultural parcels sold in Langley in 2012. When you have such professional opinion go public it definitely puts into question the management of our assets as well as the decisions that are being made in the taxpayer’s best interest.

Conclusion:  What we have seen over the first two years of this Council’s mandate is one of deals for friends and insiders, an increasing number of land deals / issues and constant conflict with Metro Vancouver.

It is long past due that we get off this train wreck to nowhere and fight for changes to our Municipal Governance before it is too late.

RG

More interesting Township Features coming soon!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s