Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Albemarle County Spends $360k For 3 Elementary School Playgrounds

Priorities, people, priorities.  Obesity is a national (and local) epidemic, and this is just a logical response to the problem.  Sure, it would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper to hire a few playground aides and buy some new balls, bats, bases, nets, racquets, goals, etc.  But quit yer bellyachin'!  It makes up for closing the beaches 2 weeks early due to lack of funds. Besides, with 260 additional, unexpected students enrolling this Fall, they've gotta put them somewhere.


Jamie Estes said...

I like this blog. I am loyal reader and am glad this forum exists. However, I don't really get the point of this entry. Are we really talking about .002% of the Albemarle County Schools' budget (which is over $142,000,000 for 10-11) to provide playground equipment to elementary school kids as if it's some sort of egregious waste of funds? I mean, what do we pay these incredible taxes for (that are often maligned on this very blog) if we can't at least have decent playground equipment for five-year-old kids? And what exactly does this have to do with the real estate bubble? I realize salaries have been frozen (because the county revenues went down $6,000,000 this year), but find me a teacher who would prefer to have an extra $14 per month rather than a new playground for their children and I'll show you someone who probably needs to find a new profession. There are way better targets in this financial climate than playgrounds, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hiring new employees ("playground aides") and paying their salary and benefits year after year would eat up that 360k in no time.

I know you hate Charlottesville and are trying to scare people off, but try a little harder not to sound like a fucking moron.

Wow, Somebody Is Really Tense said...

Anonynous, Chill Out! Your house will regain its lost value in about 20 years. Calm down!

Albemarle Schools are great! They have the best teachers and resources in all of Virginia! They're totally worth every penny you overpaid for the privilege of sending your children to them! Your children will be totally ready for their 3 year Bachelors degree at UVA! Chillax!

Anonymous said...

"Don't make the same mistake as the neighbors." Which is what? Living in Charlottesville?

I too appreciate the forum that this blog provides, but I am becoming increasingly mystified as to what the ethos of the site would see as a "right" balance for C'ville real estate. When I started reading in 2008, it was a return to 2003 pricing. That has basically been achieved. Now the bar seems to have been moved to late 90s pricing, often without regard for inflation adjustments (Shiller's recent graphs are much more realistic on this point than are many of the numbers thrown around here).

This desire to see local real estate prices tank on the scale of Detroit strikes me as bizarre. It seems that for that to happen we'd have to go into such a general economic crisis that real estate prices would not be the main story any longer. And it seems as though there's almost a desire for that kind of crisis being expressed on this blog.

What gives? Is it "class rage"? Locals vs. the influx of outsiders with bigger bucks to the area over the past decade? Any social scientists lurking here who can shed light on the histrionics of this discourse?

Anonymous said...

I've lived many places in my life, but Charlottesville is (for me) the best. I scratch my head a little bit when someone brings up a real estate listing from Lynchburg as a "comp" to what the C'ville real estate prices will be. You couldn't pay me enough money in the world (although everyone has their price) to live in Lynchburg. I grew up close to that area and it's pretty dismal culturally in comparison.

However, I can't say that the cynicism in this blog is exclusive. Read the commenters on the Hook. Someone actually said yesterday that there were "too many places to eat out" in C'ville and that people should stay home more and cook. Huh???

As someone actively looking to purchase a home in C'ville, I agree the prices are still a bit high for the level of inventory. However, good properties in good locations at realistic properties ARE moving(had 2 snatched up from me in 3 months), but there is a LOT of outdated, bad location, cookie cutter inventory on the market. Not sure what will eventually move that.

Regardless I agree with the last poster that we should not be hoping for a general economic collapse. That is going to be awful for everyone, even if you are the person that's been stuffing gold bars in your mattress.

Anonymous said...

Teachers or Playgrounds? This is wasteful spending when we need so much more to make our schools barely competitive.

This money came from a fund, capital improvement, and also from parks and rec but in times of cuts its surprising. There are other ways for kids to have recess. As for harsh comments read comments at The Hook or RealCrozet.

County is going to release the figures due to public concern.


Humpty said...

I'm saddened by reading some of the comments. I am one of the "guilty" ones who repeatedly has posted negatively about prices in C'Ville. The sad part is that some of you who are reading this board actually believe there are those of us wishing/praying that C'Ville prices tank. I'm not trying to talk prices down for the sake of it or because I'm some evil fiend. I am interested in buying property but cannot stomach over paying for something that I am convinced will eventually come down as reality sinks in. I don't want to be in a position where I overpay today and if for whatever reason I have to sell in 5 years I will have to take a bath. I don't claim to know how far prices will fall or where the bottom will be but prices have to reach an area where it makes economic sense. In other words if I cannot sell at break even in 5 or 10 years I can at least rent it out without taking a bath!

I could be wrong but I don't think so because I'm seeing it happen in nearly every other market nationwide. Most of the other markets I follow are larger and have international buyers too so there are more transactions in number but prices have tanked and most serious buyers are realistic.

I know this is painful for those who bought on the highs and it's difficult to be objective but put on a buyer's cap when you look at your property and ask yourself how much you would be prepared to pay for it today if it wasn't your house.

As for the playgrounds, I go nuts. I can guarantee you that the same playgrounds could have been built apples for apples for 50% less than the $300k+ that was spent. Take out the paper pushers, politicians, favors, connections unionized workers, incompetence etc. If private individuals were paying for these playgrounds out of their own pocket and had a basic understanding of general contracting it would have cost much much less. Unfortunately, our tax dollars are not spent carefully but wastefully. Even if there isn't corruption it's carelessness and oversight because it's other people's money.

Analogy: I met a friend on the plane a couple of weeks ago flying club class and he asked me why I wasn't. I told him you're charging your client, I'm paying out of pocket! He laughed in acknowledgment.

Waiting for 2003 prices said...

Anonymous 9:35

prices are no way near 2003 levels for the vast majority of homes on the market. If they were, sales would be up. If they were, I would have bought a house by now.

John Doe said...

10:46 pm anonymous, to suggest that cynicism or criticism or noting wasteful spending = hating Charlottesville is itself moronic. It's also the clear sign of a moron to use profanity.

9:35am anonymous, There were more distressed sales (short sales, foreclosures) in the City of C'ville and Fluvanna County than new sales during August. This area isn't Detroit or DC or Az but prices are quickly falling below 2003 prices when foreclosures / REOs are resold. The distressed sales are the true comps. Regular sales are following these price trends.

10.05 am anonymous, Just released today via Census Bureau: 14% of Americans live in poverty, the highest number since 1994.

In Charlottesville: 23% live in poverty.

A "hope" for economic collapse? Really? If you look at the numbers, the Cville area is worse off this year than last year, middle of Great Recession, and 2008: higher unemployment, slower sales, rising inventory, falling prices, mortgage holders with negative equity, rising foreclosures and short sales, County and City and State budget problems.

It is understandable that those who bought in the past few years, even some who bought in 2009, are enraged because they're losing money. But as Humpty points out, other markets have followed this same pattern down. Maybe there's something that will change the pattern in this area; maybe there's not.

John Doe said...

More on Albemarle County school budget issues:


Humpty said...

@ Anon on September 16, 2010 9:35 AM
You stated....."When I started reading in 2008, it was a return to 2003 pricing. That has basically been achieved. Now the bar seems to have been moved to late 90s pricing, often without regard for inflation adjustments (Shiller's recent graphs are much more realistic on this point than are many of the numbers thrown around here)."

I wasn't on this board in 2008. I have been predicting this debacle since 2005. I was telling people then and I'll re-affirm it here that we will go down to mid 1990s prices. It's taken much longer than I thought but then again the Government has spent "Billions" in propping the market for the good of all. Typically when a market corrects after a massive upswing the pendulum swings violently overshooting the other way and hence my prediction. It has nothing to do with indexing prices to inflation. The market will return to the "mean" (= Robert Schiller's graph) after the correction runs its course . Had the government not interrupted the process we would probably found some kind of equilibrium by now. Instead we are half way through painfully going through a slow and tedious decline.

Humpty said...

Anon Sept 16 stated "When I started reading in 2008, it was a return to 2003 pricing. That has basically been achieved. Now the bar seems to have been moved to late 90s pricing, often without regard for inflation adjustments (Shiller's recent graphs are much more realistic on this point than are many of the numbers thrown around here)"

It's the Case-Shiller graph. You are quite right that the graph is currently hovering around 2000. However, look at where the projection is heading and with volatility and momentum things can even overshoot!


Humpty said...

Can anyone tell me why the condos at White Gables are so expensive? I know this is considered to be a top address but I drove by them the other day and then heard the freight train coming through. The entire neighborhood was shaking as if there was a tremor rumbling! Since when do fright trains run through exclusive neighborhoods? Is this another C'Ville special?

Anonymous said...

Continuing saga of Realtor delusions with new MLS#481422. The first line reads "Rare opportunity to purchase a NEW house in an established neighborhood off Barracks. However it looks suspiciously like a redo of the Asbestos shingle home c.1952 on County assessment records. What is the true story?!? Fire or Flipper perhaps? What is under the vinyl?



C'ville Bubble Blog said...

Apropos "condos" but on the very low end, $99k, six came on the market Friday, on Barracks Rd, owned by Cheetah LLC, which is a Hunter Craig entity, he of the Biscuit Run debacle that turned into a Bailout via the Commonwealth last December.

@Humpty, have to agree that White Gables is a headscratcher - but has it ever gotten off the ground?

@9:07pm, this may be an "established neighborhood," but it has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. The street shares a property line with very busy very transient condos/apartments.

Too, 123 West Park Drive, a few doors away, 2 bd bungalow, recently sold when it was listed at $149,900. It sold as a Sallie Mae (REO) property. It had been listed last Spring for $235k but never sold so it went to foreclosure. It's still listed on Homepath.com as "under contract."

That neighborhood is also "established" in terms of very mature landscaping. The street was decimated by the summer's 2nd microburst, and there are tall trees on virtually every property.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:07pm....

Looks suspicious to me as well. Can't imagine anyone building a brand new home that is that unappealing visually. Compare to the original and we may have the answer.

Anonymous said...

Developers/Brokers think the public is stupid! and those few buyers considering currently considering to pay these asking prices are the stupid ones fueling this perception!

AliG said...

yet there continues to be a somewhat steady stream of foolish (greater fool)buyers propping up the hopes of desperate sellers that they too will be bailed out. Not many, but enough to keep this market bubbled. I do not want to name specific names for obvious reasons, but they are clearly evident when you look at recent sales, and see the sales price compared to assessment and purchase price of the seller.

Humpty said...

The 7-Million Housing Shadow Inventory Could Trigger A Price Avalanche