On October 23rd, 2014, the Community Redevelopment Agency voted 7-1 to provide IB Tallahassee, LLC, as the owner of the Doubletree Hotel at Adams Street, up to $682,000 in CRA grant funds.
Among those elected officials that voted for the grant was Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier.
Less than three months later, public records show that Commissioner Dozier purchased a home located in Lafayette Park from Catherine D. Baker and John Thomas Burnette.
Mr. Burnette was listed as the Manager of IB Tallahassee, LLC, according to the state of Florida Division of Corporations in 2014 and 2015. Both Ms. Baker and Mr. Burnette were mentioned in the recent FBI subpoenas delivered to city hall related to the investigation of the CRA.
Also, TR has previously reported that Mr. Burnette is a major campaign donor to local government races.
According to property records, the purchase of the property by Commissioner Dozier took place on February 18th, 2015 in the amount of $188,600.
The prevailing ethics rules state that “No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he or she is an officer or employee,..”
However, an exemption is available to an elected official if the purchase of goods or services is at a price and upon terms available to similarly situated members of the general public.
The final price of $188,600 was never advertised to the general public.
The specifics of the real estate transaction are as follows:
On May 7, 2014 the property was appraised for $280,000 by Timberlane Appraisal with the condition of adding a new roof estimated to cost approximately $10,000.
On July 19, 2014, three months after the appraisal the property, was listed on the MLS for $230,000.
On October 29, 2014 the price was reduced to $215,000.
On December 22, 2014 the price was reduced to $199,000 and on January 12, 2015, the property was removed from the MLS.
After viewing the property, Dozier told TR she discovered that the home was owned by Mr. Burnett.
After being removed from the MLS, Ms. Dozier signed a contract on January 21, 2015 and on February 18, 2015 the property was sold for $188,600.
Real estate professionals consulted by TR stated that the $91,400 drop from the initial appraisal to the final sales price leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
There was no indication of major problems with the home in the appraisal and TR confirmed there were no permits on record indicating major repairs.
Commissioner Dozier Responds
Dozier told Tallahassee Reports, “I am exceptionally careful about conflicts of interest” and “I am confident the purchase of this home was conducted per our ethics rules.”
In addition, Dozier said the transaction was at “arms length” and that she was not personally involved in direct negotiations regarding the purchase price. Rather, the negotiations were handled by her real estate agent.
Why the difference between the appraised price and sold price? Ms. Dozier offered that the house had been used as a rental for a number of years and that the market ultimately determines prices.