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City turns to eBay to sell parcel

Tired of trying to get rid of a property no one seems to want, the City of Port Orchard has decided to try the last resort of many in a similar situation — selling its white elephant on eBay.

The land, a 3.48-acre chunk of mostly swamp off Fircrest Drive, has been under the city’s jurisdiction since its owner failed to pay his portion of a utility limited improvement district assessment launched in 1984. The ULID, formed to help bring sewer to that area, included 4,200 other properties that were charged based on their ability to develop.

The owner of the property in question — known as the Parkwood lot — was given the chance to protest his assessment and have it reduced or eliminated,

For whatever reason, however, he failed to do so and, after two years of non-payment, the city foreclosed.

“We don’t have any records of why they didn’t lodge a protest,” said city Treasurer Kris Tompkins. “Quite a few people did that — they had their assessments reduced or taken off entirely.”

The city, after paying some back taxes and costs associated with the foreclosure, tried several times to sell the property. In 1988, the lot was appraised at $12,000; this year, the assessor placed the value at $43,850. Both values took into account the wetlands and the subsequent challenge of developing the land. But still, no takers.

At some point, the city even tried selling the land to Habitat for Humanity at a steep discount, but they didn’t want it either.

Finally, said city engineer Larry Curles, during a recent brainstorming session someone — he won’t admit who it was — suggested putting the property up for sale on eBay, a huge on-line auction website. It turns out eBay does have a real estate section and, late last month, the Port Orchard City Council gave the project the go-ahead.

“We’ve tried every traditional way of getting this property back on the tax rolls,” Curles said. “Now we’re trying this way.”

The auction hasn’t started yet. Curles said there are still a lot of legal issues that need to be worked out. However, even if someone takes the land at its proposed minimum bid — $4,900, a number that includes the $2,540.07 original ULID assessment plus the money the city has thus far expended on the parcel — the city will at least recoup its investment.

If the auction is successful, the profits will go into the Water/Sewer Revenue Bond Fund — a holding account for money left over from the original ULID bond.

Eventually, those funds will help pay off the upcoming Karcher Creek Sewage Treatment Plant expansion.

Curles said he hopes at least one person will be willing to take on the parcel. The county, which holds jurisdiction over the land, has said it is probably buildable, although the owner will need to get a variance.

“Someone may want to try that,” Curles said, adding: “And if they want state residency, we can work with them.”

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