Winnebago City Council is trying to sell some city-owned property, however, they’re not about to give it away.
On Tuesday night, council members rejected a bid of $1,000 for a vacant lot located at 435 First Avenue Northwest and another offer of $150,000 for two duplexes.
City Administrator Chris Ziegler says a couple from Delavan is interested in moving a rambler house to the First Avenue Northwest property.
“It still sticks in my craw we couldn’t sell it the first time,” says Councilman Scott Robertson. “I have a problem of trying to hinder someone from coming in and putting a house on it.”
The lot was was sold to council member Jean Anderson nearly two years ago for $4,200, but the sale was voided after it was determined to be illegal for violating the state’s conflict of interest law.
Councilman Rick Johnson says other “buildable lots” in the city have sold for a lot more than $1,000 and perhaps new bids should be accepted.
“This is ideal property,” says Johnson. “It ($1,000 bid) seems very, very low to me.”
Anderson says the council should wait in hopes of getting a higher bid because she’s heard reports that indicate property values are expected to increase 10 percent.
“It’s great to put the property back on the tax rolls again, but we don’t want to set a precedent of setting low property prices in town,” she says.
Council members decided to seek new bids until March 13 and are asking a minimum of $4,000.
It’s not clear when the council will again try to sell the city-owned duplexes.
Ziegler says the city owes about $189,000 on the duplexes that have an assessed value of $280,000. He says about $40,000 in reserves have been accumulated from rental of the units.
“I don’t see why we would sell something for less than what we owe,” says Anderson.