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.Ã‚Â The district has an easement that allows its bus lane to encroach a bit on the property.Ã‚Â The land and home is owned by the estate of Mary Blanchard.Ã‚Â Recently, someone representing the estate contacted the district and offered to sell the land for $65,000.Ã‚Â The home is assessed at $47,000, according to county property tax records.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â A proposal to buy the land several years ago was rejected by district voters.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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:Ã‚Â The asking price is too high.Ã‚Â “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.Ã‚Â 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.