BRADENTON -- Faced with a $3.5 million deficit that has to be closed by May 30, the Manatee County School Board recently voted at a special meeting to sell off some surplus real estate.
Two parcels at the corner of Manatee Avenue West and First Street, next door to the Manatee County School District building, were sold to Blackrock Development Holdings, LLC for $1.65 million.
This property was referred to as the Checkers-Owen' Annex, because a Checkers Drive-in restaurant used to occupy one of the parcels.
"We had an opportunity with a bona fide buyer," said School Board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter, "and we didn't want to miss this offer."
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According to a report from the district's finance office given to the board at the meeting May 6, "this Contract for Sale of property reflects the financial urgency of the District to obtain proceeds in fiscal year 2012/13.
"The proceeds will be used to enhance the General Fund to include property and casualty insurance, maintenance and repairs, technology and information services (as applicable), and to pay down debt in the Capital Fund," the report read.
The school board bought the property in 2004 for$1.4 million, and had an offer two years ago from Gold Glove Ventures for $2.2 million, but the sale fell through after school board members balked at paying a $400,000 commission.
Gold Glove made another offer that was presented to the board at the April 22 board meeting, but they rejected that offer at the May 6 meeting.
Carpenter said the board had concerns with the escrow amount and the time
the district's money would be tied up.
Floyd Calhoun, the registered agent for Gold Glove, on the advice of his attorney, would not comment on the vote.
But when asked if the company would be going to court on the issue, he said to "look at the entire history. You can read between the lines."
The other parcel, on26th Avenue West behind the Firkins automotivedealership business, was sold to Firkins Acquisition, Inc., for a net proceed to theschool district of $550,000.
Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner voted not to accept Firkins' offer because he did not think it was high enough.
The property was appraised for $1 million.
"I would rather borrow a half-million dollars," Miner said, "than give away a half-million."
Board member Bob Gause recused himself from all three votes, saying his firm, Allison-Gause, either has done business with the two firms or may in the future.
The school board will meet again Monday, when it is expected to vote on updating the district's nepotism and fraternization policies.