Cape County seals deal for property

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

With the purchase of a lot and building on North Missouri Street recently finalized, Cape Girardeau County has added to the amount of property it owns along the Jackson courthouse square.

Closed-session minutes released Monday by county commissioners show an approximately 90-by-90 foot lot and office duplex at 200/202 N. Missouri St. was sold to the county for $139,210 after negotiations took place in December. The county agreed to split the cost of property taxes for 2012 owed by the previous owner, which added another $710 to the price.

One tenant, a dentist, is using one side of the duplex building and will remain for the time being, according to commissioners.

The county has made efforts in recent years to buy available properties on the north side of the Jackson square. In April 2012, a house at 205 N. Hope St. was sold to the county for $85,000 and torn down to make room for a parking lot. In August 2011, the county purchased a house at 120 E. Washington St., which was converted into the public administrator's office. For those purchases, the county used money from its 2011 capital bond fund.

This time around the county used funds from interest it collects, which also is designated for capital improvements. The original asking price of the North Missouri Street property was $142,000 and the owner requested the county pay the full property tax amount. The county made two offers; the first of $132,000, then $134,500, before accepting the owner's counteroffer, according to closed-session minutes.

The minutes show Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy and Associate Commissioner Paul Koeper approved the property purchase, while Associate Commissioner Jay Purcell voted no.

Purcell previously voted to approve offering the owner $134,500 and asking the owner to pay the full amount of property taxes. He did not attend Monday's commission meeting, which was his last before commissioner-elect Charlie Herbst was sworn in, and did not return a call or email seeking comment on the purchase as of Monday afternoon.

Specifics for potential use of the property have not been worked out, according to Tracy and Koeper, but both said Monday they expect the property will fit into an upcoming scenario in which the county hires a long-term planner and architect for new county facilities.

Overcrowding at the county jail, which sits adjacent to the new lot and building, has been a problem in recent years. Expansion of jail facilities is a possibility, county officials have said, but there are not any plans to do so.

"That has not crossed our mind as we went through this," Koeper said. "The property came up about a year ago and it just kind of fit into what the county should own along that block."

Tracy said the purchase was about timing -- "it was a good deal because the price was only going up," he said.

During his time on the commission, Purcell has been a vocal advocate of building a facility that would consolidate at a central location county services divided among Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Other commissioners seem to have recently gotten on board, ordering structural analyses of current courthouse facilities in 2011 and in 2012 requesting architects review all county facilities for the purposes of long-term courthouse planning.

The county attempted to buy the former federal courthouse on Broadway in Cape Girardeau from the General Services Administration in 2011 and spoke briefly with a private owner in 2012 in hopes of relocating some county services there. No deal was reached.

Funds used to buy the property in Jackson are separate from money the county received by refinancing jail bonds it intended to use for the federal building purchase. Those funds are being used for ongoing upgrades to county facilities.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

200 N. Missouri St., Jackson, MO

202 N. Missouri St., Jackson, MO

120 E. Washington St., Jackson, MO

205 N. Hope St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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