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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

City of Daytona Beach buys 20-foot strip of land from campaign financer for $320,955

Therese Doan

Therese Doan

Multimillionairess Therese Doan, a well known political supporter and key campaign financer in Daytona Beach sold a 20-foot strip of land to the city for $320,955.

The City Commission's unanimous approval of the purchase was not done at a public meeting; it was adopted quickly through the consent agenda on 5/7/08 without public discussion after Commissioner Dwayne Taylor made the Motion to Approve which Commissioner Rob Gilliland seconded.

Items on the consent agenda are not discussed nor open for public comment and are regularly adopted in group. This method of effecting substantial expenditures by the City Commission has been widely criticized in the past as showing a lack of transparency and circumventing Florida sunshine laws.

Daytona Beach City Commission

Daytona Beach City Commission

The city routinely delays the publication of the minutes of these meetings until after the lapse of the 30-day legal limit for citizens to file official appeals or judicial complaints. So, in effect, unless people are present at these often lengthy meetings and know where to look, millions of dollars of their tax moneys get spent without their knowledge.

The City's documentation indicates that the parcel was appraised at $137,000 in December 2005 and that it ordered a new single appraisal in January 2008. The new appraisal showed the property's value increased to $266,400, an appreciation of almost 100% during that period.

The end of 2005 is widely recognized as the peak of the recent real estate bubble. During the subsequent period of 2006-2008, Daytona Beach real estate properties, both commercial and residential, have seen substantial decreases in values due to the real estate crisis and the mortgage meltdown. For the first six months of the current year 2008 alone, the decrease has been 13% according to data tracker Zillow.

According to the city-ordered appraisal, the value of the Permanent Utility Easement portion of the strip of land "increased" from $2,500 in Dec 2005 to $75,600 in January 2008. This represents a 3,000% increase in valuation. None of the Commissioners made any inquiries nor expressed any reservations at this inordinate amount.

In his letter requesting the purchase, the Deputy City Manager indicated that "The City is not required per the interlocal agreement to proceed with this project" but he recommended its approval nevertheless.

According to the Volusia County Property Appraiser's office, Doan's parcels, which include the small 20-foot strip of land sold to the city, have a Just Value of $31,000 (Parcel 5305-08-13-0063) $28,000 (Parcel 5305-08-13-0062), $20,000 (Parcel 5305-08-13-0061), and $20,000 (Parcel 5305-08-13-0060), for a total market just value of $99,000.

The city is only purchasing a 20-foot strip, a 5,425 square feet fraction out of the approximately 22,000 square feet of Ms. Doan's parcels. Ms. Doan uses the unimproved property as a temporary parking lot during special events for the use of employees in the Main Street area. The temporary parking lot site plan was approved in 2007. The map below shows the strip of land lying inside Ms. Doan's parcels.

Strip of land purchased from Therese Doan

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