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Unfair Market Value

Unfair Market Value: It’s Your Money

by Jack McWalter

According to City Code, City-Owned property must be sold for commercial use at no less than Fair Market Value (FMV). As explained in the BocaFirst article “Brightline: Boca’s Economic Impact Analysis“, one exception to this requirement is where an economic impact study shows that the sale at less than FMV results in a significant economic benefit to the City. To-date, the Mayor and City Council are selling City-Owned property being offered for $1/yr to Virgin Trains USA (VTUSA). The property owners, the residents of Boca Raton, have not been provided the legally required economic impact study. Any agreement, therefore, to sell the City-Owned property to VTUSA at less than Fair Market Value violates City Code and is invalid.

Dollar Rent from Lease
Dollar Rent from Lease. Full text of lease is here.

Misinformation comes from lack of transparency

Do Boca Raton City Officials think residents are stupid? A phrase that City Officials like to use in situations like this is “there is a lot of misinformation regarding the VTUSA situation.” If City Officials were more transparent, misinformation would be eliminated. Misinformation is not the residents’ fault. It is the fault of City Officials who have not been transparent about the deal with VTUSA.

Have you asked yourself why VTUSA is so eager to get this deal done? Does that raise a red flag in your mind? With incomplete economic transparency on the part of City Officials, residents are left to ask these and other questions. When no answers or incomplete answers are provided, intelligent voters draw their own conclusions.

Missing information

What does a transparent statement look like in the context of the VTUSA lease agreement economic impact? 

  1. It is clear and understandable by the residents of Boca Raton and free of opaque accounting jargon. 
  2. It is complete and includes both material economic benefits and economic costs to the City by the proposed VTUSA lease. 
  3. Economic risks of the proposed VTUSA lease are provided and quantified as contingency costs. 
  4. Since the proposed VTUSA lease is long term, the time value of money must be included. 
  5. Finally, a definition of significant economic benefit must be made and the results of the VTUSA lease agreement economic impact study tested for significance.

The attempt to complete the VTUSA lease agreement without a transparent economic statement that includes the five items above demonstrates the misinformation. It is also poor fiduciary responsibility on the part of City Officials and is a violation of City Code.

What you need to do

Contact your City Officials before the December 10th City Council meeting. Let them know that with millions of dollars of the residents’ money on the line, we expect the highest degree of fiduciary responsibility and transparency regarding the proposed VTUSA lease.

Boca Raton City Council
Boca Raton City Council

As shown (L to R):
Jeremy Rodgers jrodgers@ci.boca-raton.fl.us
Andrea Levine O’Rourke aorourke@ci.boca-raton.fl.us
Mayor Scott Singer ssinger@ci.boca-raton.fl.us
Monica Mayotte mmayotte@ci.boca-raton.fl.us
Andy Thomson athomson@myboca.us

You can make your voice known in City Hall at the following scheduled meetings where public input is taken. For tips on speaking at City Meetings, see our article How every resident can stay engaged. How every resident can stay engaged

  • Dec 9 2:00 PM (or after prior CRA Meeting ends) City Council Workshop Meeting
  • Dec 10 6pm City Council Meeting. Vote to approve Ordinance 5509

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