LaFayette council discusses McClendon Building future

Published 6:51 am Thursday, July 1, 2021

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At its Monday meeting, the LaFayette council discussed what it wanted to do with the former McClendon Trucking building, which the city purchased in 2017 to use as its new city hall.

“We purchased that building with the intention of that building being redeveloped into the new city hall and police department because we definitely need an upgrade to what we have currently,” Councilmember Michael Ellis said. “We’ve been sitting on it for three years now, and we need to make a decision on what we’re going to do with that building. We can’t continue to let it sit there. Are we going to invest in fixing it, sell it or do something with it?”

At the June 14 meeting, the idea of selling the building was brought up, since the city hasn’t acted on its purchase. Since the city owns the building, it is not receiving any taxes from the building.

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Councilmember Toney B. Thomas was in favor of selling the building

“I think we need to go ahead and sell it, put it on the market and get rid of it. Someone might come back and make a building out of it,” Thomas said. “We need to just put it on the market because it’ll probably take some time to sell. It’s going to cost more to fix it than it’s worth.”

The original architecture bid the city accepted for the building $2.5 million.

Councilmember Tammie B. Williams said she doesn’t think the city, which had a surplus of just $21,573.10 in the 2020-21 budget, should spend money on the building when it is potentially asking to raise the city’s sales tax to 10 cents. There have also been talks about raising other utilities like sewer and sanitation.

“I don’t think it is wise to ask the citizens to increase their bill on something so that we can buy something else to move city hall in,” Williams said. “If we could sell it or utilize it, has that been ruled out? Can we not utilize it? I don’t think that it would be wise for us to put any money in it if we’re asking for a one-cent sales tax [increase] or there have been suggestions of raising the utility bills. We do have people on fixed incomes, everybody is not able to do what’s been thrown out here.”

Williams did want the canopies at the McClendon building, which are torn and old, to be taken down and replaced, just to help the eye appeal of the building. She also wanted the awnings taken down at the current city hall.

“Make what you’re living in look a little bit better. Sometimes it’ll make you feel better just to go to work in a building that is presentable,” Williams said. “How are we going to make people in the city clean up when we’re not going to clean up?”

Ellis brought up the fact that if the city were to sell the building, it would still need to upgrade the current city hall at some point relatively soon.

“We still need a newer municipal building,” Ellis said.

Mayor Kenneth Vines informed the council that he had been approached by a citizen that wanted the city to keep the building and would want the city to lease out some of the space for interested business, which would bring money to the city in several ways.

“Even if we are going to put it on the market, we’d still have to put some work into it,” Vines said. “This is something that we may want to wait for a minute, sit down and look at it since I was just approached Saturday morning about it. It belongs to the city and we need to do something about it.”

The council approved replacing the windows in the McClellan building as most of them were broken.

“When you come into the city, that is the first thing you see, the windows are broken out, and it just looks terrible right now,” Vines said.

The council also approved a resolution to open a new bank account for the money the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan. LaFayette will receive $691,073.07.

“I suggest opening up a separate bank account so that money is separate. It’s not cooped in with anything, and we can easily show all the funds were spent on relevant items in regards to the American Rescue Plan,” city clerk Louis Davidson said.