County to purchase lot

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By John Shindlebower


Despite objections from two magistrates, the Spencer County Fiscal Court voted to purchase the vacant lot next to the Judge-Executive’s office on Main Street. The action came during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The court voted 4-2 to allow Judge-Executive John Riley to negotiate a price of up to $90,000 for the lot that could be used for an expansion of the courthouse. However, those opposed said no such plans are in the works or even being discussed.

“I’ll just state on the record that I’m completely against this spending $100,000 or $90,000 of the taxpayers money on a piece of property that provides no tax benefit, no additional income benefit, and it really provides no economic benefit at all,” said Magistrate Brian Bayers.

Riley said he supported the purchase that would allow for courthouse expansion in the future, even though there are currently no plans from the Administrative Office of the Courts to add on to the current facilities in Spencer County.

“I fully recognize this will not be in the AOC budget either this upcoming session or possibly the next,” he said. However, he said the current court facilities are “woefully inadequate,” and also said there is a deteriorating exterior wall on the building where his office is located, that will have to be addressed. That wall was exposed when the adjacent building was torn down several years ago, creating the vacant lot.

The lot was previously purchased by local attorney Charles Tichenor, who is building a new law office on half of the space.

The other half is what the county is attempting to purchase.

Magistrate Roger Moore made the motion to purchase the lot and he was joined by Riley, Collis Rogers and David Goodlett in voting for the measure.

Bayers said the AOC will not be doing anything with the lot for the next 2-4 years because they have no money in their budget. “We’re buying a piece of property just on a whim,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Magistrate Hobert Judd agreed with Bayers, and also said he does not want this current administration to saddle the next administration with additional debt.

“I don’t want to see us put the next court and the ones following that for years, in debt for something we’re not going to use. We don’t have the money to build anything,” said Judd.

Rogers, who said he previously had not supported the purchase, said he has recently changed his mind regarding spending.

“I felt that way here a couple of weeks ago, but after we turned around and voted $100,000 here the other day to buy a tractor we didn’t need,” he said he voted for buying “a tract of land we don’t need.” He was referring to a purchase approved earlier this month to purchase two Kuboda tractors and mowers at a price of $184,000 for the road department.

After the meeting, Riley said the purchase will put the county in a better position for lobbying state lawmakers for a courthouse expansion. He said the lot’s proximity to the existing government buildings made it a good purchase.

“It’s worth more to us than it is to anyone else,” Riley said.

Until a new construction project begins, he said the lot could be used for parking, if necessary.

As for the wall, the purchase of the lot will make work more feasible. If a new courthouse expansion is constructed, that wall might become an interior wall and the wall would be shored up by the new building.

If another owner had purchased the lot and erected a structure, it would have been difficult for repairs to be made to the wall given the narrow amount of space there would have been between buildings.

In other action, the court revisited an issue from earlier in the month regarding rearranging space in the building on Spears Drive housing recycling and other spaces.

In early November, Riley had proposed taking part of the room in the building currently used by the recycling center, and allowing the county vehicle maintenance garage to use it. He said the garage could make good use of the bay doors, and it would also free up some of the room currently used by the garage, to give added room to the animal shelter for their use in isolating or quarantining dogs.

Riley and others said they have heard concerns that this would lead to the closing of the recycling center, but Riley said that is not the case. He said the area the recycling center is losing is currently being used to store cardboard, which could be kept outside.

Moore said he talked to the company that purchases the county’s recycled cardboard, who told him that wet cardboard and dry cardboard brings the same price – as it is weighed after it’s baked. He said the only loss of revenue could be minimal if the company has to store the county’s cardboard for long periods of time.

Last month, there was talk about partnering with Rumpke to provide curbside recycling. That could impact the future of the county’s recycling center. However, Riley said that’s not to suggest recycling would end in the county. In fact, he said curbside recycling would likely lead to an increase in recycling in the county, and also potentially result in lower garbage collection fees for customers.

However, he said he is still waiting to hear back from Rumpke about a proposal that could provide the curbside recycling.