A request by the T.J. Beall company to purchase county-owned property in Drew was tabled after a company official and county leaders failed to reach a concrete agreement during Monday's Sunflower County Board of Supervisors' meeting.
Attorney Richard Noble and T.J. Beall's representative Lawson Gary offered to purchase additional property at the Drew site for $120,000.
The company is already leasing a 40,000-square foot building on six acres and is now proposing to buy that, plus an additional five acres that contains a concrete slab.
"They had an appraisal that they submitted to buy the 40,000-square foot warehouse and the five acres, now they are presenting a proposal to buy the five acres with the building, and next door--five and a half (with a) concrete slab," Noble said.
In his presentation, Gary told the county leaders that the company had run into some issues in renovating the building.
"And we think at this point it's probably just best to buy the building and the adjacent land to it."
He said the property has been appraised and it came back at a value of $140,000 for the six acres and the building.
He said since they had already done $20,000 worth of improvements to the building, they were subtracting that from the appraised value.
So, his proposal was to buy the entire 11-acre plot for the $120,000 citing that the portion with the concrete slab on it was actually going to cost them more than the land is worth because they would have to remove the slab and dispose of it. They want the five-acre plot because apparently their utilities run underneath it.
Even though Gary said the five acres is basically useless to them, Sunflower County Economic Development Director Fred Washington said the county has an offer to lease that portion.
"If we can't come to agreement on that other five acres, we're okay," Gary said.
Washington said the property was originally priced $500,000, but it is now listed on their website for $200,000. Despite apparent disparities in the price, Gary told the county leaders that they were still interested in the building and the six acres.
Washington also noted that the tax appraisal amount for the property was $349,063.
"That's a huge jump from the assessment, the tax appraisal versus the actual appraisal," he said.
Washington told the board he thinks they need to consider that and get a second appraisal.
Another concern was that Washington apparently did not get much of an advanced notice regarding the proposed sale price.
Washington said that he was aware of the intent to buy the property but had not seen the details until Monday's meeting. He said he had met with Noble and was informed of their intention to present an offer but had not received the packet to review the details.
He said he would not recommend selling the property for under $200,000.
Donald emphasized, "If we're going to hire a man to handle our economic development properties, we shouldn't sit up here and make a decision and not have him included. Fred didn't know nothing about it until I called him the other day and ask Fred about it. And I think it was intentionally throwing Fred out of the loop.”
Attorney Johnny McWilliams also voiced his concerns over selling the property for less than it appraised for in addition to basing it on an appraisal that was not done by an agent of the county, for the county.
He said to sell it for less than the appraised value would "raise problems" and if they were going to sell it for less, it should be done by bids.
Taking account of all of the information, District 3 Supervisor Ben Gaston suggested that Washington put together a summary of the information and his recommendation for the proposal before they vote on it and Donald agreed and entered a motion to table the decision stressing that the members should wait and follow Washington's directions.
McWilliams suggested also allowing the economic development advisory board an opportunity to review the packet since that was usually part of the normal procedure.
District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson asked McWilliams if the property needed to be put up for bids like in other instances where the board sells property.
McWilliams described the situation as unique and explained that the property had changed hands several times.
In addition, the property was acquired through a tax sale and a bankruptcy.
He said there is a statute that lists certain things that would allow them to forego the open bid process.
"And in those circumstances you are authorized to sell it without receiving bids. If you find that it's not needed for county purposes (and) the way that you proposed to sell it would be in the best interest of the industrial economics,” he said.
He added that the board is not required to sell it that way, but it is permissible.
McWilliams also mentioned the possibility of needing a centralized polling place on the north end in the future because of legislation that is currently in the works.
"If you are required to have a central place like that, I always thought this would be a good place for it."
He advised the board to keep in mind that they may have a need for the building later.
Currently the Beall company has a 48-month lease on the property for $400 a month with the stipulations that they will do $39,000 worth of improvements and upgrades.
Donald said, "You're giving the building away at $400 a month lease anyway."
Board President Riley Rice conveyed to Gary that they are willing to work with him on the property but wanted to study all of their options further before making a decision.
Washington added that the building is one of the best county-owned vacant buildings at present, mainly because it has not been vandalized.