Friday, July 28, 2017

BCPL Votes to Approve Land Purchase

As we reported earlier this week, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk announced that he would oppose a proposed land purchase by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. He said at the BCPL's meeting earlier this week that he feels BCPL is paying too much for the land and that they would be better off investing their money in other areas.  He also said he believes BCPL does not have the constitutional authority to buy land.

Attorney General Schimel pushed back very hard when Adamczyk claimed he had constitutional objections to the purchase. “You can’t keep throwing around constitutional duty without accurately defining what our constitutional duty is. You’re wrong. You’re dead wrong,” Schimel told Adamczyk at the BCPL's meeting on July 25.  

Schimel said that the constitution directs BCPL to manage their assets in the way the legislature directs them. He said that under Speaker Jensen’s leadership, the Legislature directed the BCPL to sell land using a land bank authority and to use the money to do one thing—buy other land that benefits its beneficiaries. “We’re doing exactly what the constitution directs,” said Schimel.

Schimel and Secretary of State Doug La Follette brought up the point of land management, arguing that it is part of a broader effort connect land that BCPL already owns and to make a larger parcel.

BCPL staff said their projections showed that the Board will make between 3% and 8% on the land and that it is a good investment.

“I resent that you have publically characterized the only conservative option would be to vote against buying this land,” Schimel told Adamczyk. “That’s absolute hogwash. There is clearly a conservative interest in doing this that will increase the value of our assets and grow the School Fund for our beneficiaries.”

Adamczyk is also working with members of the Legislature to make changes to the Board’s land bank authority. He asked for the bill draft to be put on the next agenda. Jonathan Barry said he supports the word change in the bill draft but that some changes would be needed. The bill draft removes the word “only” from the land bank statute, which would allow the Board to invest proceeds from land sales in things other than land.

This issue has generated significant media attention.

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