Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Province Reports Langley Airport 'Sweetheart Lease Deal' Should Be $1.25 Not $0.24 - Independent Appraiser

Kent Spencer of the Vancouver Province reports today that, "A real-estate appraiser believes Langley Township may have broken the law by approving a 'sweetheart lease deal' at its airport." by undercharging an air industry company for space.

The preeminent independent appraiser who advises Vancouver and Abbotsford airports as well as the smaller municipal airports Larry Dybvig, says that Langley Township council's recent lease approval of an air industry company's 24 cents a square foot should be more like $1.25 a square foot. The province's Community Charter has a legal requirement that states businesses can't be subsidized as also reported in Councillor Kim Richter's report and as most recently reported in the Feb 4th Langley Times.
Dybvig says that, "the community charter law requirement is there to protect taxpayers' assets from being given away". He continued to say that, "Langley doesn't appear to be doing what the Community Charter requires,".

Richter at the January 8th Township council meeting asked for an independent opinion on the 24 cent lease with no seconder or discussions at all saying at the time that a 40 year long 24 cents a square foot lease seemed too low to her. Despite her serious concerns Council ignored her motion to request an independent 2nd opinion on the lease. At the same council meeting all the members of Township council later voted in favour of the 24 cent 40 year long lease except for Richter with not even any discussion on her concern at all. The Province reports that work has already started at the airport site on the new lease. LFP has commented on the 24 cent lease before here, here and here.

Richter raised the following questions in her LFP posting and in her letters to the local paper editors. They still need answers.
Richter asks, "This is what the Act says and based on the Act, I think these are the questions:

  1. Was an independent arms-length appraisal of the airport land based on fair market value obtained prior to Council voting to give a 40 year lease to an air industry corporation at 24 cents a square foot? (Section 25)
  2. Is 24 cents a square foot fair market value for industrial land in Langley? (Section 25)
  3. Is Langley subsidizing the air industry? (Section 25)
  4. Why? (Section 25)
  5. Is there a partnering agreement? Between who? (Section 24)
  6. If Langley is subsidizing the air industry, did it publicize its intent to do so prior to Council’s decision to approve the 40 year lease? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  7. Was the publication of Council’s leasing decision in accordance with the Community Charter Act? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  8. Was the community charter act violated? (Sections 24, 25, 26 & 94)
  9. Are Councillors who voted for this decision personally liable for the difference in lease rates over the life of the contract? How much is this liability? (Section 191)
  10. Are these Councillors now disqualified from holding office? (Section 191)"

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