April 22, 2024

Jasper County gets no new bidders for cleaned up property

Supervisors at a standstill over small property and recouping costs

Jasper County has been unsuccessful in trying to sell an abandoned property it had acquired and then cleaned up. Supervisors on Feb. 20 voted 6-0 to reject a $6,700 bid to purchase the property, citing it was too low a price for the $16,000 the county put into the property trying to clean it up.

Supervisors received no new bidders for the sale of a small property west of Lambs Grove that was abated by Jasper County. Even though the board of supervisors has held a number of bid openings over the past few months, only one person has shown any interest in purchasing the land.

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors have disagreed over the sale of the property and its program to acquire and abate abandoned properties at past meetings. None of the supervisors individually changed their stances at the Feb. 20 meeting, and neither has the person interested in buying the 0.22-acre lot.

Buddy Cupples, who lives near the county-owned parcel, submitted a $6,700 bid for the property. The costs for the county to legally acquire the property and then clean it up total $16,000. Supervisor Brandon Talsma said the county needs to recoup its costs. Supervisor Doug Cupples argued it is impossible to do so.

Specifically, Doug said the assessed value of the lot is about $6,700, and he was skeptical whether the land value, potential or otherwise, would be worth the $16,000 the county really wants for it; Doug ultimately felt the lot was not attractive enough for someone to bid that much for it.

Talsma was adamant the program should sustain itself by at least breaking even. He believed the county should sit on the property, and that just because it is not a business it doesn’t mean supervisors do not need to worry about overhead costs and the sustainability of the program.

Which puts the county at another standstill. Buddy submitted an $8,000 bid previously, and he even increased it to $10,000. Still, the board of supervisors could not come to agree on accepting the higher bid. This time, Buddy submitted a bid that matched what it was valued.

Doug asked Buddy to raise his bid again in hopes it would be accepted by the board, but Buddy reluctantly refused.

“I got to thinking. If you buy a house and you want to sell it and get twice as much out of it than it’s appraised at, you might be losing there, too,” Buddy said. “I just came to the conclusion — nothing against you guys, I realize you gotta recoup your money — I just don’t want to pay any more than I think it’s actually worth.”

In order to avoid situations like this in the future, Buddy suggested the county post for sale signs on properties it acquires but has not abated yet.

“Give the people around an opportunity to buy it,” he said.

Buddy was unsure if that was in the county’s power to implement. Talsma indicated it is not. When the county acquires the property, it has to finish the process and clean it up. Jasper County is legally obligated to proceed with abatement, Talsma said.

Doug added, “We like that idea. I would love to be able to sell it ahead of time.”

Supervisors were sympathetic to Buddy, who has followed through with bids each time. He understood the board’s predicament but he did not feel comfortable submitting a higher bid at this time. The board would go on to unanimously reject the bid.

“I wish we would have taken (the higher bid) the last time,” Doug said.

Buddy said, “I do, too.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.