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Is building purchase "lose-lose" for county taxpayers?

web posted January 16, 2008
OPINION – Is the just revealed plan of purchasing the property presently owned by J.P. Calliham worth the $450,000 price? Maybe so, but is it the right thing to do with insurance money? Probably not. The building owned by the county that housed several county offices and the Senior Citizens Building was razed by fire last year. The insurance settlement is reported to be over $600,000, more than enough to rebuild the building. To protect county assets the building should be rebuilt. Should the county also look at buying the Calliham property? Absolutely, but shorting one asset for another is a lose lose situation for the county taxpayer.

Rebuilding the property with a new $600,000 building would raise the property value to at least one million dollars. By not rebuilding the property value is greatly reduced and the county will take a loss when the property is sold, missing out on an opportunity to have available retail or office space available for rent or collecting on the increased value of the property.

The county should seek to buy the Calliham property for logistical reasons, but not by using insurance money intended to replace a county building destroyed by fire.

With the Edgefield County Council reserving over $100,000 a year in miscellaneous expenditures, the property could be purchased and paid for in just six years. The near 50-year-old building would have to be demolished, including the current warehouse, to make room for the expansion of the jail, which would have the county pouring money into a building they do not intend to keep intact.

That seems to be pouring good money into a bad situation when renovations made will be destroyed when the complete occupation of the property is final. Benefiting the contractor, not the county.

The remarks of County Council Chairman Monroe Kneece at the January 8 meeting claiming insurance would not provide enough money to rebuild the property is obviously mistaken. Protecting the investment of county taxpayer interests in the Church Street property should also be first and foremost on the minds of our county leaders.

Chairman Kneece and Administrator Pettigrew remained largely evasive and unresponsive as to future plans of the Church Street property. This leaves questions open as to why and who may be interested in the property for development purposes.

We agree that the county should move forward on the purchase of the Calliham property, but not by devaluing property that is not only desirable but also prime for development.

Rebuild the building and then sell the property at a profit, not a loss. It seems the county is trying to pull a bait and switch with a good idea shielding a really bad idea. In the end, the taxpayer loses in both propositions.

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