The St. Clair County Commission voted unanimously to give the Pell City Council three more weeks to decide whether to assume a $4 million loan from the county, so the city could have total control of the former St. Clair St. Vincent’s Hospital property, the medical professional building and the DHR property next to it.
“We’re kind of in that holding pattern right now,” Pell City Schools Superintendent Michael Barber said after Tuesday’s vote by the County Commission. “We’ll have to wait and see what the city will do. That’s about all we can do right now.”
The commission voted to give Pell City until Nov. 12 to agree to assume a $4 million interest-only loan or it would move forward with the closing of the DHR property with the Pell City Board of Education.
Last month, the commission agreed to sale the former DHR building to the Board of Education for $125,000, but the city had shown interest in securing the property for itself in January.
Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said the offer to the city was still on the table, but the city now has until Nov. 12 before the commission moves forward with the sale of the facility to the school board.
Batemon said the city is trying to determine whether the property transfer would affect its bond rating if the property was transferred and the city assumed the $4 million interest-only loan.
“Also, we have to get an appraisal of the property,” he said.
Batemon said in January the commission offered to transfer all the former hospital property, or property owned by the St. Clair County Healthcare Authority, to the city if the council assumed the interest-only loan. He said the deal also included a swap for the Pell City Chamber of Commerce building for the former DHR building.
Commission attorney Bill Weathington Jr. said city officials asked for a one-week extension to determine if the transfer of the old hospital property would impact the city’s bond rating.
The city is trying to secure a $3.5 million bond issue for various city projects, including a new municipal pool and money to purchase the CenturyLink building for the site of a new public library.
Weathington suggested the commission provide an additional two-week extension or give the city until the next commission meeting, which is Nov. 12. The commission agreed to the extension on the advice of its attorney.
The Board of Education has until April 2014 before its lease with CenturyLink expires. City officials have said publicly that the City Council would allow the Board of Education to remain in the CenturyLink building as long as it needs, if the city buys the facility and the Board of Education secures the DHR building at a future date.
The city is considering the purchase of the CenturyLink building, which currently houses the Board of Education central office. The city plans to move the public library in the main floor of the facility.
Last week, city officials attended the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting and presented a resolution, which was unanimously passed by the City Council, that asked the Board of Education to partner with the city in buying the CenturyLink building.
“We want you here,” Mayor Joe Funderburg told school board members. “We want you to be a partner.”
In accordance with the recent proposal by the City Council, the school board would own 25 percent of the facility, while the city would control 75 percent of the CenturyLink building, which is located at the intersection of U.S. 231 and Bruce Etheredge Drive.
Barber told city officials last week that the school board had already approved purchasing the former DHR building after the city initially offered a long-term lease agreement with the board.
He said the board needs to first see the outcome of its proposal with the County Commission before making any other decisions.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.