Last month, Pell City Board of Education members voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase of the former St. Clair County Department of Human Resources building from the County Commission for $125,000.
At one point, the school board expressed an interest in jointly purchasing the CenturyLink building with the city. The Board had proposed owning and paying for about 25 percent of the total cost of the facility. The Board central offices are currently housed in the CenturyLink building at the intersection of Bruce Etheridge Parkway and U.S. 231.
However, the school board made an offer for the former DHR building because the city only offered a long-term 25-30 year lease.
“… the City Council has determined that it is wise, expedient, and in the best interest of the citizens of Pell City to authorize the Mayor, City Manager, and City Attorney to negotiate and draft with the Board a contract, operating agreement, and such other documents as may be necessary regarding the joint purchase and operation of the CentruyLink Building,” the resolution passed by the council Monday states.
Superintendent Dr. Michael Barber, who was out of town at a Superintendent’s Association meeting, said he would make sure that copies of the resolution are given to members of the school board at Tuesday night’s meeting.
“This is the first formal offer we have received from the city about joint ownership of the CenturyLink building,” Barber said Monday afternoon.
He said the board has already unanimously approved purchasing the former DHR building from the County Commission.
“Ultimately we can’t go back on our offer,” Barber said.
The County Commission said the city has until Oct. 21 to agree to assume a $4 million loan to become sole owners of the former St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital on Dr. John Haynes Drive, along with other property adjacent to the old hospital property, including the former DHR building. Otherwise the County Commission would move forward with the sale of the former DHR building to the school board.
Barber said it is not likely the board will consider any other options, unless the sale of the property does not go through for some reason.
“We have to honor what we tell people we will do,” Barber said. “It’s not appropriate at this time, but we do appreciate their offer.”
The council went into executive session for about an hour Monday, but took no action when it emerged from the closed-door session.
Also, the council did not make a motion to negotiate a possible agreement with the County Commission to gain total control of the former hospital property and the DHR property.
The commission contends the DHR building was not part of the hospital property partnership agreement with the city. The city contends that the former DHR property was part of the agreement because after DHR stopped leasing the building it would revert back to the St. Clair County Healthcare Authority, and in accordance with the agreement, ownership of all Healthcare Authority property would be given to the county and city.
However, commission Chairman Stan Batemon said when the hospital property agreement was drafted, DHR was still leasing the building.
He also said the former DHR building was never a part of the agreement because nobody knew that the property owned by the St. Clair County Building Authority would ever revert back to the Healthcare Authority.
The commission secured a $4 million loan to help complete the construction of the new hospital on Veterans Parkway. The city agreed to pay $100,000 or half of the annual loan payment, whichever was greater on the interest-only $4 million loan. In return, the county and city would have joint ownership in the former hospital property.
In other matters Monday, the council:
• Proclaimed October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Pell City.
• Approved to solicit bids for new police vehicles.
• Approved to solicit bids for sports trophies.
• Approved a resolution to repair lights on Interstate 20 at the Eden 156 Exit.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.