FPS trustee: New MTC offer a ‘slap in the face’

Farmington Public Schools trustees on Tuesday agreed to a $60,000 reduction in the price of a long-vacant Farmington property, but they clearly were not happy about it.

Farmington city council members voted 4-1 Monday to approve the agreement, which sets a $690,000 purchase price.

Board Secretary Angie Smith called the reduced amount “a slap in the face.” City officials have been evaluating the former junior high and three acres of land since offering to buy it last spring.

“This does not help the community,” Smith said. She wondered what residents will think of school officials “giving away our property.”

Vice President Terry Johnson explained that, before the city’s offer, a $1.2 million private deal fell through “for understandable reasons”, after the district agreed to a lower purchase price of $1 million.

“The last thing we had on the table was an offer for $750,000,” he said. “This is the last time I really want to see this thing in front of us. When we negotiate deals along these lines, we are taking money and opportunities… away from our kids here at Farmington Public Schools.”

Johnson said he also holds the City of Farmington equally responsible for the private deal falling through, because proposals had to go through the planning process.

Split environmental costs

Clark Hill attorney Dana Abraham, who worked on the purchase agreement amendment, said the property had significant title issues. In addition, the city discovered $120,000 in environmental problems. While city officials wanted the district to pick up the tab, the parties agreed to a 50/50 split.

”I frankly think the fact that we have decreased the price this much is a shame,” trustee Zach Rich said. “I want this property off our hands, I don’t want to see it in front of us again.”

Trustee Terri Weems was also “not a fan” of the deal.

“We have a history of accepting reductions in prices for our assets that I am not pleased with at all,” she said. “Reductions are generally at the expense of this district and at the expense of our kids.“

Weems said she would vote in favor because “at this point, given our environment, and what I expect to be the future environment for the next couple of years, I don’t believe we’ll be able to get more.”

The sale agreement amendment passed on a 6-1 vote, with Smith opposing. That releases a $10,000, non-refundable deposit to the district and starts a 10-week clock for the city.

If officials can’t secure financing within that time, the deal falls through.

Correction: The Farmington council vote tally was incorrectly reported in the original version of this post.

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