After discussing the matter for about 30 minutes in executive session, Aransas County Independent School District (ACISD) Trustees, at a special meeting Tuesday, Oct. 30, approved the sale of Little Bay Primary (three parcels of property) for $1.1 million to Rockport Land Trust. The transaction is now in the option period.
The first vote was 3-2 in favor, with one abstention. Michaela Alston made the motion to sell the property. Eli Ramos seconded the motion. Alston, Ramos, and Board President Jack Wright voted in favor of the sale. Trustees Diane Tucker and Ray Garza voted against the sale. Cindy Robbins, a local realtor, abstained because she is involved in the sale.
Trustee Jeremy Saegert was not at the noon meeting. He is employed by the Aransas Pass Independent School District and could not attend.
After the initial vote Wright said he thought there was a problem due to Robbins’ abstention. He believed and abstention had to be counted as a nay vote.
At that point Robbins left the meeting to go to another meeting.
On Thursday Robbins told The Rockport Pilot she attended the meeting “to make sure her abstention was on the record” due her involvement in the sale.
Contact with ACISD attorney Merri Schneider-Vogel was attempted after the first vote to clarify if the abstaining vote changed the outcome of the 3-2 vote. Before making contact, Wright called for a second vote.
The second vote was identical to the first one, but without Robbins’ abstention because she was no longer present.
After the second vote, contact was made with Schneider-Vogel, and she noted the second vote was not needed (an abstention is a non-vote, therefore, the first and second vote were identical as far as approval of the sale).
Tucker told the Pilot Thursday she voted against the sale because she doesn’t think the ACISD received enough money for the property, and it wasn’t on the market long enough.
She also thinks the voting wasn’t handled properly.
“The vote (final results) didn’t matter,” said Tucker. “I just didn’t think it was proper protocol.
“I just want to make sure this is on the up and up.”
Tucker said Robbins is the selling agent for the property, and did not recuse herself from the conversation, but did abstain when voting on the sale.
“I’m not trying to change the vote,” she said. “I just want to make sure what we did was right.
“I don’t think anything was illegal.”
Background on the property
When the ACISD bought the property, it did so under market value. The price it paid is lower than what it will receive in the sale.
Tucker said the ACISD will receive the $1.1 million for the sale, as well as $1.4 million in insurance proceeds, for a total of $2.5 million.
The ACISD listed the property for $1.9 million and received two bids. Rockport Land Trust’s bid was just over $1 million. Patek negotiated up to $1.1 million. The second bid was considerably lower.
Aransas County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Mike Soto said the three parcels included in the sale are on the tax roll at $2,058,830 (main building complex), $141,770 (small parcel south of the building), and $302,380 (parking lot on north side of building) for a total of $2,502,980.
He noted the building has always been a “hard sell.”