With the completed construction of two new county storage and maintenance structures — one for the Conservation Department at Forest Park Museum and the other for the Secondary Roads Department at the central maintenance facility — the county is now looking to sell off seven smaller satellite sheds in towns around Dallas County.
Construction of the new $515,000 storage building at the Dallas County Secondary Roads facility was completed this month, allowing the department to centralize its operations at 23380 250th St. and sell off storage sites in Adel, Bouton, Minburn, Van Meter and Waukee.
The conservation board awarded a contract in March to Menz Agri Sales to build a new maintenance building for $167,000, relieving the department of the need for its sheds in Woodward and Dawson.
The Dallas County Board of Supervisors turned Tuesday to Dallas County Attorney Chuck Sinnard for advice on how best to go about legally disposing of the public property. In a memo to the supervisors, Sinnard said as long as a resolution is passed and a public hearing held by the board “and a method of sale is chosen that supports sale for a fair market value, the choice of how to sell the property is up to the board.”
Sinnard outlined four options for selling, including “listing the property with a realtor after an appraisal and selling for at least the appraisal price, a sealed-bid process, a public auction or even direct negotiations with an interested buyer following an appraisal and sale for at least the appraisal price.”
A general discussion ensued among the supervisors, department heads, county attorney and county auditor on issues ranging from timelines for vacating the sheds to the relative virtues of listing properties with a realtor or taking bids at auction.
A question arose about abstracts for the properties along with uncertainties over whether such records exist and where they might be stored.
“It sounds like a good process for the county to start gathering abstracts on all of our properties,” said Supervisor Kim Chapman, “whether we’re selling them or no, so that we know where they are.”
The supervisors agreed in their desire to fetch as much as possible for the lands, particularly the Adel and Waukee properties, which they assume have value for potential commercial development.
“From a fiduciary point of view,” Board Chair Mark Hanson said, “we want to try to get the best return possible back for our taxpayers. There’s value there. Are you more apt to get a higher value if you use a realtor, though it’s maybe expensive if you would and potentially a higher appraisal, or is a bid process just as good?”
The county attorney concluded from his review of the case law that the board has latitude in how it sells the old sheds.
“My take away,” Sinnard said, “after looking at all this is that as long as those legal considerations and procedural considerations are taken into account, there’s a lot of flexibility left up to the board on how you choose to dispose of each individual property. You could choose an appraisal for one. You could choose sealed bids for another. As long as you are making sure it’s sold for a fair market value and the public’s given an opportunity and notice to have a hearing on your proposed method of disposing of it, how you choose on each one is up to you.”
The supervisors decided to revisit the subject at this week’s board meeting.