Mascotte land deal under investigation

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MASCOTTE, Fla. - An investigation into whether the property appraisal was inflated for a piece of land purchased by the City of Mascotte is under way.

The city purchased the 6-acre property on State Road 50 and Tuscanooga Road six years ago for $1.5 million.

The land is an old clay pit and the city keeps a wire fence around the property because of the steep drop.

"I've racked my brain trying to figure out what we could do if we filled it with dirt. That would cost a few million dollars. So, it was a very poor decision and the citizens of Mascotte are still paying for it," said Mayor Tony Rosado.

Rosado said officials have ordered an investigation into why the city paid so much for the property.

The land was supposed to be used as a retention pond for a new sewage plant that was never built.

Rosado said in 2002, the property was appraised at $120,000, but a few years later the city paid 12 times that amount.

"When I asked, they told us that they appraised it on future value. To me, you don't appraise or pay for anything on future value. Future value is just hopes and dreams," said Rosado.

Rosado said he and other city leaders want to make sure the appraisal wasn't padded and that no one in city government at the time knew about it.

"Something doesn't add up. We'll get to the bottom of it. Hopefully we can move on. The unfortunate part is we'll still be paying for this property for quite a few years to come, " Rosado said.

The city attorney will look into the matter and the findings will be turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.