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After months of negotiations, Jefferson back to square 1
Buildings tenant opts out of purchasing space
The tenant of this building in Jefferson now wants to extend the lease rather than making the purchase. - photo by Times file photo

JEFFERSON — After months of debating, voting and trying to reach a decision, the city of Jefferson is right where it started in regards to a rental property located at 55 College St.

Instead of selling the building as previously planned, the city will continue renting the building to Direct Supply Inc.

In March, the company’s owner, Doug Sims, approached the Jefferson City Council about purchasing the property for $75,000 when his lease expired at the end of 2009.

During a voting session during that same month, the council voted to not sell the property and instructed the city’s staff to determine if the $50,000 to $70,000 needed for repairs could be included in the fiscal year 2010 budget.

In August, city staff identified alternate repair options that would bring costs down to $35,000 to $50,000; however, during the budgeting process, funds for the repairs had to be eliminated from the proposed budget as a way to save money.

After the repairs could not be fit into the budget, the city council voted in September to sell the building through a bidding process and the minimum was set at $76,000. After no offers were made on the building, the city contacted Sims to determine how he would like to proceed with his soon-to-be expired lease.

On Dec. 1, Sims notified the city that he would like to continue leasing the building at the current rate of $850 per month for another two years, with a third-year option at a cost of $900 per month. The city council approved the lease agreement during Monday’s voting session.

While the rental provides a continual revenue source for the city, the extended lease agreement also leaves the city responsible for repairs.

“We are going to phase in the repairs — utilizing the rent money to make the repairs as we go. We’ve worked out an agreement with the tenant and we will begin right after the first of the year,” said John Ward, city manager.

“We’re going to start with roof repair and removing a tree near the property that has been contributing to water infiltration. After that, we will assess the situation to determine what else needs to be done. We’ll make the other repairs as needed — it won’t be a full-blown project to fully restore the building.”

Carrying the weight of the needed repairs has also brought about other issues for the city. Previously, the property’s rental fee was being funneled directly to the budget of the Crawford W. Long Museum.

“One thing that we’re doing now is budgeting so that expenses are reflected in revenue sources.The museum has plans for expanding programming and offering summer and school-break type camps that focus on history, so there will be an opportunity for revenue replacement in those areas,” said Ward.

“Overall, we were looking at the best thing to do, at a minimal cost involving tax dollars. In the end, the best approach — as decided upon by the city council — was to continue renting the facility.”

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