Coronado’s City Manager Flipped a House That Taxpayers Helped Finance. Was It Wrong?
ABC 10 News is revisiting an interesting situation involving Coronado City Manager Blair King and a lucrative home sale made possible by city taxpayers.
When King first signed on with the city, he didn’t live there. Coronado is too expensive for a large chunk of the population, with average homes selling for $1.7 million. But the city council, which wished to see King reside in the area, offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse.
The council members decided to offer help in the form of a low-interest mortgage, financed with city reserves. They offered Blair King up to $1.5-million to help pay the mortgage. King bought a home on Pomona Avenue for $1.2-million, and paid interest as low as 2.5%, a bargain, even during a time when interest rates hit record lows.
King sold the home 5 years later at a profit of $230,000 and kept it. His next home, which cost $1,135,000, was also financed by the City of Coronado.
That rubbed open government advocate and former San Diego City Council Member Donna Frye the wrong way.
"When you have a City Manager who is making upwards of $200-$300,000 on an annual basis and then in addition to that salary and benefits that they're getting also gets low-interest loans at taxpayers’ expense, that for me, from just a moral and ethical standpoint stinks to high heaven," Frye said.
King rejected the insinuation that there had been any wrongdoing. He notes the deal was made in a fully open process.
“There wasn’t anything that was hidden.”
This was the only way King could afford to work and live in the area and, during that time, he says he maintained his home and paid his obligations on time.
“I am paying a mortgage. I am paying property tax. I am doing what any other homeowner would do. It just happens to be the lien holder is the city of Coronado...The City of Coronado chose to be the lein holder because they are making a profit on the loan.”
Not only does King see no ethical dilemma, but he says he’d do it again. The city agrees. It says the deal was a good one for taxpayers both financially and in terms of having King in the city.
Coronado isn’t the only city offering employees such a deal. Several other municipalities offer low-interest home loans as incentives during recruitment. As long as the arrangement is reasonable, fully secured, and completely transparent, the International City/County Management Association sees it as a valid way to attract and retain qualified candidates for city government. Clearly, not everyone agrees.