White County Offers $590,000 for Building, Last Purchased for $320,000

There is another developing controversy in White County right now surrounding the purchase of a new building for the Office of Emergency Management.  Judge Mike Lincoln has located a building that he believes is suitable for the needs of OEM and available at a ‘fair price.’

The address of the building is 2301 Eastline Road in Searcy, AR (pictured right).  According to the lot’s “commercial property card,” the building is 7,500 square feet, on approximately 1.45 acres.  Now, according to the card, the property was last sold in 2006 for $320,000.

Before I am called a liar, here is a copy of the property card (Page 1) & a copy of the warranty deed as evidence.

A few other facts about the property:

  • The total new replacement cost for the structure of the building & its components is $317,666 (Page 3)
  • The Replacement Cost New Less Depreciation or RCNLD is $181, 069 (Page 3)
  • The Adjusted Cost Total is $172,016 (Page 2)
  • The building is only 20% ‘retail space,’ and 80% storage (Page 2)

There have also been a lot of questions raised about whether or not the property is connected to city sewer lines and, if not, what the cost of those improvements would be.  As far as I know, the judge has not given a definitive answer about these concerns.

So now it is 2011 and the aristocrats currently ruling our county have decided that we, the taxpayers, must purchase this building for the low price of $590,000!  Maybe if we order now, they’ll double the offer and pay for the shipping?

The quorum court voted last month, by a count of 8 to 4, to approve the purchase of the building.  However, because they lacked a 2/3 majority, the issue must have two more readings and be voted on twice more.

The four JPs who went on record against the purchase (Burns, Cooper, Gibbs, and Sellers) asked that the property be appraised before the county move forward with the purchase.  In comments to me, JP Cameron Cooper said:

Those of us on the Quorum Court who asked for an appraisal were in the minority, with the argument for purchase being that over $100,000 of improvements have been made to the property, and after much searching, this was the property most suited to the needs of the county.

The majority of the court disagreed and according to other reports, the judge said an appraisal would be ‘too expensive.’  He estimated that the cost would be $5,000.

Now we can have a conversation about the suitability of the building, and we should, but it doesn’t sound like we are.  It sounds like we are rushing someone’s pet project through before all of the costs and benefits can be considered.

I am no real estate expert, but it does not take an expert to see that there is more going on here than meets the eye.  Why would a building nearly value in 5 years, as property values have been plummeting?  Why doesn’t the judge want to have an appraisal?  Why does OEM need a building this big?  Looming questions that don’t seem to have answers.

The quorum court, incidentally, meets tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the White County Courthouse in Searcy.  Perhaps a good representation of voters would remind these people whose money they are wasting…I can dream, can’t I?

UPDATE:  It has been brought to my attention that the paper is reporting that the judge had the building appraised.  I will look into this.

 Nic Horton 



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