Sixteen of the sixty Priest Lake cabin sites on the auction block today have now sold for their appraised value to the existing lessees, with no one bidding against them. There’s a lot of relief in the big ballroom, where, during the break before the next set of auctions in just over an hour, people are exchanging hugs. Among the comments in the crowd: “Congratulations – we are so happy for you! I saw your tears of joy.” “I know my gut’s been churning, and I’m not even in this round.” “There’s a little pressure in this room – can you imagine anyone bidding against this room?” "Taxes will be cheaper than the lease."
Patrick Hodges, deputy director of the state Department of Lands, said, “I think it’s going well. It doesn’t surprise me that everything’s going for appraised value.” A lawsuit from a group of cabin-site lessees challenging the appraisals as too high is set for a court hearing tomorrow, seeking reconsideration of a judge’s earlier rejection of their bid to prevent the newest appraisals from being used for auctions or to set rents, but all those participating in today’s auction have signed papers agreeing to accept their current appraisals, so they aren’t affected by the outcome of that case.