B-156041, FEB. 11, 1965

B-156041: Feb 11, 1965

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THE PERTINENT FACTS GIVING RISE TO THIS MATTER ARE AS FOLLOWS: A CERTAIN TRACT OF LAND. WAS PURCHASED BY THE UNITED STATES THROUGH THE ABOVE-CITED CONTRACT ON MARCH 6. THIS PURCHASE WAS MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE CHENEY DAM AND RESERVOIR. AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE YOU WERE. YOU WERE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN EXPENSES PURSUANT TO PUB.L. 85-433. WHICH READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS: "* * * THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS AUTHORIZED. THEIR POSSESSIONS AS IS OCCASIONED BY SAID ACQUISITION. REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $37 FOR MOVING EXPENSES WAS APPROVED. YOU REFUSED ACCEPTANCE OF THE $37 CHECK TENDERED TO YOU AND HAVE MAINTAINED IN EFFECT THAT THIS SUM DOES NOT AMOUNT TO JUST COMPENSATION FOR DESTROYING YOUR FARM OPERATION.

B-156041, FEB. 11, 1965

TO MR. HERMAN H. SCHRAG:

IN A RECENT COMMUNICATION TO OUR OFFICE, POSTMARKED JANUARY 8, 1965, YOU REQUESTED RECONSIDERATION OF OUR CLAIMS SETTLEMENT Z-2244232, NOVEMBER 6, 1963, WHICH DISALLOWED THE MAJOR PORTION OF YOUR CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION ARISING INCIDENT TO LAND PURCHASE CONTRACT NO. 14-06-526 51.

THE PERTINENT FACTS GIVING RISE TO THIS MATTER ARE AS FOLLOWS:

A CERTAIN TRACT OF LAND, OWNED BY DR. AND MRS. GEORGE E. PAINE TOGETHER WITH THE HEIRS OF A FORMER WIFE OF DR. PAINE, WAS PURCHASED BY THE UNITED STATES THROUGH THE ABOVE-CITED CONTRACT ON MARCH 6, 1963. THIS PURCHASE WAS MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE CHENEY DAM AND RESERVOIR, WICHITA PROJECT. AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE YOU WERE--- AND HAD BEEN FOR SOME TIME-- - A CROP-SHARE TENANT ON THE LAND PURCHASED. AS TENANT, YOU WERE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN EXPENSES PURSUANT TO PUB.L. 85-433, 72 STAT. 152, WHICH READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS AUTHORIZED, TO THE EXTENT ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED BY HIM TO BE FAIR AND REASONABLE, TO REIMBURSE THE OWNERS AND TENANTS OF LANDS ACQUIRED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, OR MAINTENANCE OF DEVELOPMENTS UNDER HIS JURISDICTION FOR EXPENSES AND OTHER LOSSES AND DAMAGES INCURRED BY THEM IN THE PROCESS AND AS A DIRECT RESULT OF SUCH MOVING OF THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES, AND THEIR POSSESSIONS AS IS OCCASIONED BY SAID ACQUISITION, WHICH REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE IN ADDITION TO, BUT NOT IN DUPLICATION OF, ANY PAYMENTS THAT MAY OTHERWISE BE AUTHORIZED BY LAW: * * *"

PURSUANT TO THE ABOVE-QUOTED AUTHORITY, REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $37 FOR MOVING EXPENSES WAS APPROVED. YOU HAD CLAIMED $20,500, LATER REDUCED TO $10,970, FOR ALLEGED LOSS OF OIL ROYALTIES ON OTHER PROPERTY, MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL EXPENSES, THE COST OF MOVING MACHINERY AND FENCING, THE COST OF SEARCHING FOR REPLACEMENT ACREAGE AND THE LOSS OF YOUR LEASE. YOU REFUSED ACCEPTANCE OF THE $37 CHECK TENDERED TO YOU AND HAVE MAINTAINED IN EFFECT THAT THIS SUM DOES NOT AMOUNT TO JUST COMPENSATION FOR DESTROYING YOUR FARM OPERATION.

THE ONLY ALLOWABLE EXPENSES UNDER PUB.L. 85-433, ARE FOR MOVING EXPENSES. IN THIS REGARD, THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF PUB.L. 85-433 DEMONSTRATES THAT THE CONGRESS WAS WELL AWARE THAT THE ENACTMENT OF PUB.L. 85-433 WOULD LEAVE UNRESOLVED MANY PROBLEMS RELATING TO LAND ACQUISITION. SPECIFICALLY, THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE TAKEN FROM A REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DEMONSTRATES THIS FACT CONCLUSIVELY:

"THIS LEGISLATION WOULD AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO REIMBURSE LANDOWNERS AND TENANTS FOR EXPENSES, LOSSES, OR DAMAGES INCURRED IN MOVING THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES AND THEIR POSSESSIONS, WHEN SUCH MOVES ARE OCCASIONED BY THE ACQUISITION OF LANDS FOR WATER CONSERVATION AND OTHER PUBLIC-WORKS PROJECTS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE SECRETARY.

"THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR DOES NOT PRESENTLY HAVE AUTHORITY TO MAKE REIMBURSEMENTS FOR MOVING EXPENSES. SUCH EXPENSES ARE NOT WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF JUDICIAL DETERMINATIONS UNDER THE CONDEMNATION STATUTES OR OF THE APPRAISAL PROCESS WHEN LANDS ARE ACQUIRED BY OTHER MEANS. IN BOTH CASES, IT IS ONLY THE FAIR MARKET VALUE OF THE PROPERTY ACQUIRED THAT GOVERNS.

"BY THE ACT OF JULY 14, 1952 (66 STAT. 606, 624) THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS WERE GIVEN AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE LANDOWNERS AND TENANTS FOR MOVING EXPENSES WHEN ACQUIRING LANDS FOR THEIR PUBLIC-WORKS PROJECTS. THIS LEGISLATION WOULD GIVE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR THE SAME AUTHORITY FOR SIMILAR PROJECTS UNDER HIS JURISDICTION.

"THE COMMITTEE RECOGNIZES THAT THIS LEGISLATION DOES NOT SOLVE THE NUMEROUS PROBLEMS RELATING TO LAND ACQUISITION AND THAT INDIVIDUALS WHOSE LAND IS CONDEMNED FOR PUBLIC PROJECTS SUFFER ADDITIONAL LOSSES WHICH ARE NOT RELATED TO MOVING EXPENSES. THERE ARE, OF COURSE, ADDITIONAL COSTS OF DISRUPTING AN EXISTING FARM OPERATION AND ESTABLISHING A NEW FARM OPERATION AT SOME OTHER LOCATION THAT ARE NOT COMPENSATED FOR BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE COMMITTEE BELIEVES THAT THE ENTIRE PROBLEM OF FEDERAL ACQUISITION OF LANDS AND CONDEMNATION PRACTICE SHOULD BE GIVEN ADDITIONAL STUDY BY BOTH THE FEDERAL AGENCIES AND THE CONGRESS. IN THE MEANTIME, HOWEVER, THE COMMITTEE BELIEVES THAT THIS LEGISLATION SHOULD BE ENACTED IN ORDER THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR MAY HAVE THE SAME AUTHORITY AS THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS WITH RESPECT TO ACQUIRING LANDS.' H.REPT. NO. 622, 85TH CONG. 1, 2.

IN SUMMARY, THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR HAS MADE ITS DETERMINATION IN YOUR CASE PURSUANT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITY AND THERE IS NO FURTHER AUTHORITY FOR ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT TO YOU. ACCORDINGLY, OUR PREVIOUS ACTION IN DENYING YOUR CLAIM FOR ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS WAS CORRECT AND IS SUSTAINED. TREASURY CHECK NO. 13,957,742, JUNE 29, 1963, IN THE AMOUNT OF $37 WHICH NAMES YOU AND VIOLA H. SCHRAG AS PAYEES, IS ENCLOSED.