Over the past week I have been asked about my “no” vote on Resolution 17648, which dealt with authorizing a 50-year lease of a county-owned building at 200 S. Main in Independence to a for-profit company. My short answer: Sell it!

Over the past week I have been asked about my “no” vote on Resolution 17648, which dealt with authorizing a 50-year lease of a county-owned building at 200 S. Main in Independence to a for-profit company. My short answer: Sell it!

Many of you know 200 S. Main St. as the old City Hall building just south of the Square. It came into the county’s possession in 1996 and was used to house offices until it was deemed unsafe for employees a few years ago.

To say the condition of the building is poor would be an understatement. At one point during the time I worked in that building, I let another legislator’s aide use my office after the ceiling in her own office fell down overnight. Since then, the condition of the building has gotten progressively worse, and eventually the county would have to do something to address the issue.

I don’t entirely disagree with the proposal put before us. The sticking point for me is sale vs. lease. As adopted, the agreement set forth calls for the county to enter into a long-term lease for $1 per year and it includes an option for a 10-year extension. In turn, the entity that the county would be leasing to agrees to foot the bill for renovations and is required to start work within six months.

As I stated previously, the building is in such disrepair that it would take a huge amount of money to fix. In addition to the contract stipulation of investing between $100,000 and $500,000 in repair work, the leasing entity also has the option of pursuing tax incentives specifically for use in the preservation of historical buildings.

With that said, I fail to see where the county is coming out ahead on this deal. As I see it, the only party gaining quick advantage by the county keeping ownership of the building would be the developer, who would obtain a property-tax-free building for 50 years.

I’m glad the administration decided to do something with the old City Hall. I wish the Legislature would have been presented with both proposals for purchase and/or lease to consider, as mentioned in the request for legislative action attached to this resolution. I say both since one of the proposals received was indeed an offer to purchase the building verses leasing for a dollar a year for 50 years.

I’m sure the county would have made out better than a whole whopping 50 bucks, not to discount the fact that a for-profit entity would also not pay property taxes for 50 years to school, sewer and library tax jurisdictions.