Lawyers for Gov. Matt Bevin have asked an appeals board to lower the assessed value of his Jefferson County home, arguing that the mansion he purchased for $1.6 million in March is “in a considerable state of disrepair as a whole.”
The appeal, filed Monday with the Jefferson County Board of Assessment Appeals, argues that the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator didn’t take into account that Bevin only purchased 10 acres of a surrounding 19-acre lot, that the land he purchased was not the most valuable of the 19-acres, that the house is old and in disrepair, and that the assessment should more closely resemble a lower value assessed by the City of Anchorage.
“Despite the almost herculean efforts of the prior owner to restore the house in connection with a bed and breakfast initiative, which was abandoned, there is much structural and other work that needs to be done to the house,” according to the appeal, which the Herald-Leader obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
The appeal comes after two ethics complaints were filed in recent days alleging that Bevin’s purchase of the Anchorage home at a price well below the value assessed by the PVA is the equivalent of an improper gift from the home’s previous owner, Neil Ramsey, a political donor and Bevin appointee to the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, .
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The Jefferson County PVA says the house and 19-acre tract, of which Bevin now owns 10 acres, is worth $2,974,000.
Attorneys for Bevin, though, argue that the property is worth much less, citing a $2.2 million value placed on the home and land by the city of Anchorage, which does its own property assessments. Ramsey is a city councilman in Anchorage.
“It is arguably not even worth what was paid for it, let alone what it’s being assessed at,” Bevin said at a news conference on May 26th.
The appeal points out that while Bevin purchased 10 acres of property with the house, the land he purchased might not be the most valuable parts of the 19-acre tract. It notes that Bevin only purchased 150 feet of “frontage land” and that a three acre tract of land he didn’t purchase could still potentially be developed by Ramsey, which would bring down the value of the house.
It also notes that Ramsey still has access to a barn located on Bevin’s purchased property.
The appeal asks that the PVA honor the “fair cash value” at which Bevin purchased the house.
The PVA’s website says it assesses houses based on a “fair arms length transaction” and defines an arms length transaction as “property that is sold at a ‘fair cash value’ between a willing seller and a willing buyer after being advertised on the open market. The Courier-Journal, though, has reported that Bevin and Ramsey came to an agreement on the house before putting it on the market.
The appeal also offers some background on how Bevin came to obtain the house, saying that Bevin and his family realized after the inauguration that the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort “was not conducive” to housing a family with nine children.
Bevin approached Ramsey about obtaining the home in the fall of 2016, according to the appeal.
“The governor’s desire to buy the property presented the Bevins and Ramseys a win-win situation: The Bevin’s would obtain a house of sufficient size and seclusion to meet their needs, and the Ramseys would get fair value and good friends as their neighbors,” according to the appeal.