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City criticized over lack of appraisal for recent land purchase
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Covington Mayor Sam Ramsey has voiced concern over criticism received due to the lack of a written appraisal for land and buildings purchased on Turner Lake Circle , which will eventually house the Rainbow Covenant Ministries' homeless shelter.

Before the Sept. 17 vote on the sale Ramsey asked Eddie Phillips of Key Realty to work on an appraisal for the three buildings - which total 17,000 square feet - on the property.

Although Phillips could not produce a written report of his appraisal for Monday's city council meeting, he assured Ramsey the value of the property was $980,000.

"The appraisal is not tight," Phillips said. "We did an estimate and looked at properties in the area that are comparable and that's the number we came up with."

Bill Norton, former Porterdale city council member, owns the land and originally asked for more than $1 million for it. According to Ramsey, Norton accepted the figure given to the city by Phillips.

"I thought that would cut out all the arguing about it," Ramsey said.

Phillips explained three phases go into independent commercial appraisal. The number he provided Ramsey is a result of his second round of calculations. He said he has never turned around an assignment of this scale in less than 60 days.

He said because he has only been working on the appraisal since Sept. 13 along with his already heavy work load, the earliest he could have the report finalized would be Tuesday.

"I don't see any reason why it wouldn't come out like I said, but I'm not perfect," Phillips said. "I've never done anything that's been off 5 percent once I finalized it."

Technology was also to blame for the delay in a written report.

"I take up for Eddie on that one because the county computer system went down that week and he wasn't able to print a report," Ramsey said.

Another issue surrounding the sale being hotly debated is the costs of improvements to the large building making it serviceable as a homeless shelter.

Ramsey said a sprinkler system would need to be installed as well as showers in the bathrooms. The city is currently accepting bids, and Ramsey personally estimated the costs of the projects to be approximately $35,000.

"If we close out the deal on Oct. 1, which we plan to do, the city will be getting $8,200 rent from McIntosh Trail," Ramsey said.

McIntosh Trail operates an early childhood development center on the site, and five months of the company's rent would cover the improvement costs at Ramsey's estimated total.

Low monthly rent paid by Rainbow Covenant Ministries as well as FaithWorks - a non-profit organization which provides financial relief to families who need assistance paying rent or utilities - and possibly the Community Food Pantry would help maintain the buildings, rather than additional city funds.