Tuesday was decision day for state cabin leaseholders — and the news on the endowment front was surprising, and encouraging.
The vast majority of the summer cabin owners applied to keep their leases on the Payette and Priest lake sites.
On Priest Lake, 343 of the 354 lessees applied to keep their leases, the Spokane Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell reported Wednesday. On Payette Lake, 134 of 150 cabin owners reapplied.
This 95 percent renewal rate defied forecasts from state Lands Department director Tom Schultz. He had predicted that 8 percent to 30 percent of cabin owners would walk away from their state leases, in a dispute over rates. Appraisals on Priest Lake skyrocketed by 84 percent, prompting a lawsuit from cabin owners.
Meanwhile, according to Russell, five cabin owners will face competitive bids for their lakeside leases. For the first time in decades, the state is accepting “conflict bids” that open the sites to the highest bidder.
The fact that the state received applications for nearly all of the cabin sites bodes well for the state’s endowment and its beneficiaries — including public schools, which traditionally receives about two-thirds of the state’s endowment dollars.