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Posted on: April 1, 2019

White House and Federal Delegation intervene to save land trade

BAPS Elementary Rendering

A $612,248 federal tax lien that jeopardized a land swap between the City of Broken Arrow and Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) has now been resolved, after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided a partial lien release on land the City purchased in 2010.

Resolution of the lien clears the way for BAPS to build a new elementary school in the southeast part of the community, and for the City to build a new softball complex at the Events Park and a new park in the southwest part of Broken Arrow.

“On behalf of the City Council and Administration, I want to thank the White House and Senator Inhofe’s office. Had they not asked IRS staff to act on this tax lien, the City would have been involved in a year-long legal battle that would have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars and delayed the opening of a much needed elementary school for the Broken Arrow school district,” said Mayor Craig Thurmond.

“This land swap is another example of the strong partnership between our district and the City of Broken Arrow,” said Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Janet Dunlop. “Acquiring this land allows us to respond to the growth in the southeastern portion of our district while continuing to strategically manage the resources our community has entrusted us with.”

BACKGROUND

In 2010, the City of Broken Arrow purchased 81.5 acres of land at 21500 E. 96th St. through a lease purchase agreement. Over a period of eight years, the City paid $2,276,785 to Gerald M. Brother for land near the City’s Events Park at 21101 E. 101st St. 

In 2015, the City and BAPS agreed to trade land in a mutually beneficial agreement. The City would give a portion of the land by the Events Park to the school district in exchange for land near Aspen Creek Elementary. The City plans to build a regional park in the southwest portion of Broken Arrow near Aspen Creek Elementary (see attached concept rendering) in accordance with the next phase of the Parks Master Plan.

Due to the continued growth in the eastern portion of the school district, BAPS plans to build a new elementary school by the Events Park and open it by August 2020. Around 550 homes are currently being built in the area and is estimated to add 200 students to the school system.

UNEXPECTED COMPLICATION

On Feb. 26, 2019, during the closing of the property by the Events Park, the City was made aware of a federal tax lien in the amount of $612,248. 

The IRS filed this lien in 2017, seven year after the City’s lease purchase agreement. This lien prevented the City from obtaining the deed to the property and exchanging land with BAPS.

Efforts to get Brother to remove the lien failed, as did the City’s initial request to the IRS.

WHITE HOUSE GETS INVOLVED

In early March 2019, Thurmond and City Council members were scheduled to attend the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. Thurmond determined it would be worthwhile to meet with the White House and Sen. Jim Inhofe’s office to see if they could intervene, and asked City staff to write a letter explaining the situation.

A U.S. Mayors’ liaison within the White House, Morgan Bedan, met with Thurmond on March 11 and continued to provide updates the following week, assuring him that she would do everything she could to help. 

“I can’t recall a time in my years of serving on City Council that the White House has directly intervened to help Broken Arrow,” Thurmond said. “It’s very encouraging to know that our federal government is listening to what we have to say.”

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

2010                            City purchases 81.5 acres of land from Gerald M. Brother at 21500 E. 96th St.

2015                            City agrees to swap land with Broken Arrow Public Schools.

2017                            IRS files $612,248 tax lien against Mr. Brother.

Feb. 26, 2019               City learns of federal tax lien during closing; closing is canceled due to the new information. Subsequent attempts to resolve the lien are unsuccessful.

March 11, 2019            Mayor meets with White House.

March 22, 2019            IRS provides partial lien release.

March 27, 2019            City closes on land and receives General Warranty Deed.

BAPS Elementary Rendering 2

See the Aspen Creek Park Plan (PDF).

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