Recent news and talk in the community has involved the sale of land that has been long held by Hilliard City Schools. Unfortunately, much of what the district is witnessing is the dissemination of incorrect information. Included below are some frequently asked questions with the facts involving the sale of this land.
Q. Why is this property for sale?
The district purchased the site in question 10 years ago and earmarked it as the site of the third high school. When the community made clear that the site was not favored, the district was responsive, found another agreed-upon site that the community preferred and then began seeking a buyer for this land. That was seven years ago and it has been for sale ever since. The Board of Education does not believe it is prudent policy to hold on to land to avoid development.
Q. What is the offer for the land?
The Board of Education entered into a contract with Rockford Homes for the entire 124 acres that will generate nearly $5 million for the schools. This is the first time the district has had a viable buyer for the entire property and at a competitive price. This is the best and most financially prudent offer for our schools.
Q. How will the money from this sale be used?
Hilliard City Schools is in need of the funds from this sale. Since bonds were issued to purchase the land 10 years ago, the money generated from the sale must be used for permanent improvement or other capital projects and cannot be used for general fund expenditures. This means that the funds from this sale will go toward schools in need of repairs, keeping technology up to date and providing good learning environments for students.
Q. Was there another offer?
One other recent offer was received but it was not fiscally responsible or legal for the schools. It involved obligating future school boards to a complicated financial situation which included financing the deal at zero percent interest over at least 30 years. After completing a thorough financial review, the actual dollar per acre price paid would amount to the lowest offer received by far. Not only was this offer something that is not fiscally prudent, but is also not legally permissible.
The Rockford Homes deal is the best and most financially prudent offer for our schools.
Q. Was the other offer for more money that the deal the district accepted?
No. The Board of Education accepted an offer of $40,000 per acre that equates to nearly $5 million in cash value today. The non-profit suggested a complicated financial structure of $50,000 per acre that would be financed at zero percent interest spread out over 30 years. Not only is this type of deal illegal, it is actually less than the contract the board accepted.
To do a true apples-to-apples comparison of these two proposals, you must put the 30 year offer into today’s dollar value, this is known as net present value to financial experts. This calculations takes into account the hopeful continuous flow of payments as well as interest rates and the non-profit’s credit rating and drops the per acreage price to approximately $33,000. Not only was this option illegal, it was not a fiscally responsible decision.
Q. Were there other offers in the past?
Yes, in 2008 the district was in contract with another developer for 90 of the 124 total acres. However, that deal was not completed when the developer was unable to secure the necessary zoning and water and sewer approval from the City of Hilliard. The proposed development was later approved by the city at the corner of Alton Darby Creek Road and Roberts Road and is commonly known as Anderson Meadows.
Q. Why not hold on to the land for future facility needs?
Hilliard City Schools believes that future school facility needs should match the growth needs within the school district. More housing options are being proposed in the areas near Hilliard Bradley High School and Washington Elementary School and the community has already indicated that this land should not be used for development of a school. The Board of Education does not believe it is sensible policy to hold on to land to avoid development and the sale of this land can generate funds that students need today.
Q. Did the school district communicate with the City of Hilliard?
Yes. Hilliard City Schools Treasurer Brian Wilson met with Economic Development Director David Meeks on February 26 to fully inform the city about the status of the property and asked if the city would be to help the non-profit. In addition, Board of Education members also discussed the situation with City Council members. In fact, the current deal was delayed as district officials tried to find a way to work with the city and the non-profit first.
Q. Who controls the development of this land?
School districts have no say in how land may be used or how it is zoned. With this site in particular, the city is responsible for zoning and has sole control over this as far as it affects our schools. We are confident that the city will make decisions to zone and approve plans for the development of the site in a responsible manner for our community.