Piatt County may consider purchasing the North State Street Professional Building, a 14,000-square-foot office building accessed by the same parking lots that serve the county-owned Piatt County Office Building and nursing home.
Currently owned by Kirby Medical Center, the building’s $20,000 price tag is one that some board members feel could be too good to pass up.
The issue is on this Thursday's (Feb. 13) Piatt County board agenda.
“We could strip the copper out of it and make more than $20,000,” said board member Bob Murrell at the Feb. 5 meeting of the building and grounds committee. “We could turn around and sell it for half-a-million to somebody.”
His concern is a “permanent use restriction” that Kirby is proposing on the sale, which would not allow competing primary medical providers to own or rent there. Kirby Chief Executive Officer Steve Tenhouse clarified later that it would not affect the office space rented by chiropractor Dr. Gay Adams, a question that came up at the committee meeting.
“I do want clarification on the use restriction,” said Murrell, who added that inspections would also need to give the building a clean bill of health before he would be in favor of the purchase.
But others wondered if the county’s financial situation, which led to staff layoffs and a deficit budget for the current fiscal year, make a real estate purchase feasible.
“Where do we get the money to buy a new building, and is buying a building really a priority when we’re in a situation where we can’t afford so much of what we have right now?” said Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dobson. “Department heads have been assured there is no extra money.”
County Board Chairman Ray Spencer said additional borrowing could be added to existing long-term debt, with no added payments until 2020-21.
“First State Bank has offered to roll that $20,000 into the long-term that we already have for the roof and elevator repair, so we can do that. That’s one plan,” said Spencer.
“The short answer is, we have a funding mechanism that won’t affect the budget this year.”
Randy Shumard is not on the building and grounds committee, but said he still felt “out on the cold with this,” claiming he did not know the purchase was being considered until the day before the committee session.
“Gay Adams is the one who approached me, and wanted to know if she was going to be kicked out. I had no clue,” said Shumard. “I would like to have been informed because I do have a lot of people ask me questions.”
The Professional Building has one full level and a partial lower level. Tenhouse said the hospital would like to get the property sold by the end of April.
Piatt County purchased the former Kirby Hospital building in 2011, but the Professional Building was not a part of that sale.