OGDEN — A city real estate transaction has put the Ogden City Council on alert, with the body saying it wants better communication from Ogden's administration.
The sentiment stems from a recent council action to authorize a real estate contract with Dan and Michele Wentworth for the city purchase of a property at 2466 Monroe Blvd.
The property sits inside a one-block piece of land between Monroe and Quincy avenues from 24th Street to 25th Street — a spot the administration has tabbed for a Community Reinvestment Area, dubbed the Gramercy CRA. If a CRA were to be established, the tax valuation for all properties inside the block would be diverted for a to-be-determined amount of time (or up to a certain dollar threshold) while future property tax increases are funneled back into redevelopment projects there.
The total cost of the property, including closing costs and commissions, was $318,225.
The action was discussed for several hours during a closed executive session held on April 9. After the closed session was finished, council members returned to their chambers and narrowly passed the resolution by a vote of 4 to 3. Though they didn't offer specifics, several council members appeared visibly upset and expressed concern not about the actual purchase, but about the way the deal was done.
During the council's regular meeting on Tuesday, city planning commission member Angel Castillo, who is running for Ogden mayor in the 2019 municipal election, addressed the issue during the public comments section of the meeting.
Castillo said the city's business development department had entered into legal agreement by putting escrow money down on the home without checking with the council.
"I agree that it was the right project and is going with the vision where we want to go with reinvigorating a community," Castillo said. "But I am really very unhappy with the fact that procedure (was not) followed."
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said city protocol was not broken during the deal, but rather a pending deadline on the sale necessitated an expedited council approval process, with the council's decision making window being shortened.
"We did not break any procedure, but we do understand where the council is coming from," Johnson said. "And we're working with them on it."
After Castillo's comments, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell called the incident an oversight and like Johnson, said the administration is communicating with the council to reach a mutual understanding.
"That's something that has been cleared up," he said. "It was certainly unintentional and we don't expect anything to happen like that in the future."
Council Chair Ben Nadolski said the council takes the issue seriously, but would not "be caustic about it."
"We were upset about how it came to us, when it came to us and so on," he said. "We have had those conversations with the mayor and the CAO about how we handle those better in the future. We think process needs to be improved to make sure both halves of the government are coordinating and communicating and deciding on behalf of the community in an appropriate way."