As Pulaski County officials consider ways to address facilities needs while also stabilizing the county’s finances, questions are being raised about why one facilities option hasn’t gotten more attention. Last month, County Council Member Rudy DeSabatine said someone has offered to build a brand new building and rent it to the county for $20 per square foot per year, which could be much cheaper than the other ideas being considered.
But that option hasn’t been discussed since. During Monday’s special council meeting, one resident asked why.
DeSabatine responded that the other county officials seem to want to stick with the buildings they already have, like the historic courthouse, as well as the Highway Garage. “The reason it got stopped was the conversation switched to, ‘The county already owns four buildings, so why don’t we use them prior to doing this?'” DeSabatine explained. “But the end result was to use this building and to renovate it costed a lot more money annually than what it was to even buy a brand new one.”
It was noted that maintenance would likely be included in the cost of the lease option, reducing some expenses for the county.
On the other hand, Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer pointed out that the cost estimates for some of the other options, such as renovating the courthouse, are still preliminary, making an accurate comparison difficult. Beyond that, Commissioner Kenny Becker expressed skepticism with the $20-per-square-foot lease figure, noting that price could go up. He said he heard from a contractor who said that many facilities are now renting for $50 a square foot.
Still, Origer said that any of the county’s facilities options would come with costs that the county isn’t seeing now. Those would also be on top of the $2.7 million deficit that’s projected to develop, if council members don’t cut spending and increase revenues.