By Rep. Liz Pike, Guest Columnist
In its Dec. 6 issue, The Post-Record ran a story about the city of Camas acquiring real property, including a purchase of the building formerly occupied by Bank of America (BofA). The article left out a few very important details that leave this writer wondering if the city is the Grinch who stole Christmas. Here are those previously omitted facts.
According to my sources, on Nov. 19, the Camas City Council gave approval to City Administrator Pete Capell to execute a purchase of the BofA building at a price of up to $1.3 million. During the week of Nov. 26, the city warned the sellers of the property that Camas was prepared to use their power of government condemnation as early as Dec. 3 in order to acquire the property. The city also promised a tax preference to the seller in order to sweeten the deal. Through condemnation, the seller would be allowed to defer capital gains taxes owed to the federal government for up to three years.
During that week, I was contacted by a constituent representing a private group also interested in purchasing the BofA building. They were rightly concerned about the city’s use of condemnation as a lever to force the sellers into a transaction with the city. In so doing, the sellers would enjoy a tax deferment not available in a transaction with any non-governmental purchaser.
On Nov. 30 in an effort to finalize the sale, the sellers informed both interested parties they would sell to the highest bidder with a cash offer, and that sealed bids were due on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at noon. My constituent offered the seller a $1.68 million cash offer on Nov. 30.
It appears the city of Camas, in its ambition to acquire the property at any cost, decided to act on its previous threat of condemnation. On Monday, Dec. 3, city officials contacted the seller with the following message: The sellers must sign an earnest money agreement with the city by 3 p.m. that day for a price of $1.6 million or else the City would immediately file condemnation on the parcel for $1.325 million, forcing the sellers to accept the lowest price from the city, even though the city was not the highest bidder.