Value of Brown house deal questioned at work session

STRASBURG — Citizens at a work session Tuesday expressed concerns about finances during a discussion about the town’s proposed sale of the Brown house at 218 E. King St.

On Aug. 16, the town entered into a contract with Filerman Procurement Interests LLC to sell the Brown house in exchange for $60,000 and the back half of the two lots adjacent to the house. The town purchased the Brown House for $100,000.

The town plans on using the back half of the Brown house and the adjacent lot for space for a town park. During the meeting, George Rathore, a Strasburg resident and chair of the Architectural Review Board, said he approved of the plans as a whole but had questions about the value of the deal.

“We’re saving a historic building inside the town and we are increasing a park venue space that can be utilized by the citizens of the town, so it is a win-win,” Rathore said. “But as a taxpaying citizen in the town, it is also a right to know where our monetary funds go.”

Rathore said that he wanted to know the value of the land the town acquired in the deal so he could determine whether the town lost money by purchasing the house, including the back half of the property, for $100,000.

But Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said that in order to determine the land’s value, he would need to hire an assessor.

“There isn’t currently an answer to that question, short of paying to have an assessor determine that value ahead of time,” Pearson said.

Pearson said that he did not want to do that but that he expects that assessments of the lots will favor the town.

“I do believe the numbers will come back and they will be favorable or at least close to that,” Pearson said.

The eventual vote on the sale of the Brown house is set to occur during the Town Council’s next meeting on Sept. 12. The closing date on the sale is set for Sept. 22.

Pearson also announced during Tuesday’s work session that he intends to use the revenue from the sale on the town park.

Pearson said that the Town Council cannot take its final vote on whether it will use the sale revenue on the park until a public hearing is held to discuss the issue. The Town Council voted to hold the public hearing during its Sept. 18 work session.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect that the town has tentatively agreed to receive the back half of the two lots adjacent to the Brown House in its sale of the house.