If Hannibal Schools Offers Money For Land At The High School, The Offer Will Be Low

Hannibal’s Board of Education sent strong signals Wednesday that if the district’s going to consider buying a piece of land that would complete its high school campus, it won’t be for the asking price or even the assessed price of the land.

The high school wraps around a parcel of land at 1045 Auburn St. and has for decades.  The district has an easement that allows its bus lane to encroach a bit on the property.  The land and home is owned by the estate of Mary Blanchard.  Recently, someone representing the estate contacted the district and offered to sell the land for $65,000.  The home is assessed at $47,000, according to county property tax records.  The district says it was told the estate owes $13,000 in property taxes and fears that the county will sell the property at this year’s tax auction.

The district has always wanted to buy the land.  A proposal to buy the land several years ago was rejected by district voters.  There’s no guarantee a new owner will keep the easement that allows district buses to use a loop that encroaches on the private land.  And the land could be used to improve the way students are dropped off and picked up, and to give the district space to rebuild its bus garage.

Wednesday, board members said what they had hinted at the first two times they’ve discussed the idea:  The asking price is too high.  “If we do it,” said board President Dale Young, “it’s for a very low offer.

“We’re talking about acquisition of property at a time when we’re going to be strapped for cash.”

Any offer would have to be approved by district taxpayers in a referendum.

Young said he’s concerned about the district’s cash flow, heading into a year that could bring reduced state aid.

Board members are also concerned about asbestos or pollution on the property.  District administrator Dan Salisbury spoke with a representative of the estate about whether there’s asbestos in the home. “He said, ‘Your guess is as good as mine’.”

The board directed the district to see if it can purchase the property at a tax auction and to continue talking with the estate.

Prior coverage:

Hannibal Schools To Explore Talk That Private Land At The High School May Be For Sale (Nov. 13, 2009)

Hannibal Board Balks At Cost Of Adjacent Land, Possibility Of Asbestos
(Dec. 10, 2009)


  1. You can’t buy it at the tax auction because you need voters approval. Are you people idiots. Does the board president know what a fair price is? How much is a low offer? Will a “low” offer be to high? What a bunch of morons.

  2. My article does not do that portion of the discussion justice.

    The board discussed whether a school district could legally buy the property at the tax auction. The process would be: Ask for voters to approve spending “no more than” a certain amount for the property. If approved, the district would go to the auction to try to win the property, spending no more than voters approved. However, board members also said that that idea would almost certainly fail because then other potential bidders would know what the district was willing to spend, and then they would spend a dollar more to get the property. Board members acknowledged needing a public vote before any attempt to buy the property at auction.

    Their question about bidding at a tax auction was more to satisfy curiosity than anything else, in my view, and I was there.

    As to price, if you read this article and the two others I’ve written about the issue, you can see that there are three numbers in play:

    $65,000 — the asking price on the property
    $47,000 — the assessed value
    $13,000 — the approximate amount of back taxes owed.

    There seemed to me no chance that the district would go for the asking price, and no real intention to pay the assessed value. The comment about a lower price, from where I sat, puts any potential offer somewhere between the assessed value and the amount of taxes owed. A quote from the meeting that didn’t make the article was from board member Mirelle Watts: “If he’s going to lose it to a tax auction, perhaps he’ll be glad to take a lower bid.”

    I hope this information is helpful to you.

  3. what a crock of crap, the school board must want it donated to them. taxes go up and so do teachers and administrators pay. if your on social security then you got a letter from social security like i did. the cost of living didn’t go up so we don’t get a cost of living raise for 2 years. what the hell, everything else went up, is the cost of living in another country or what???

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