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Towers good option for Jefferson County

October 11, 2012
The Herald-Star

Jefferson County commissioners are facing a tough decision on whether to proceed with making an offer to purchase the Towers building on Market Street to house various county offices that are currently paying rent for office space.

A lot of people bad mouthed the idea when it was first pitched about 18 months ago. Some of those people who didn't think it was a good idea were asked to serve on a committee to study whether the county buying the building is a wise move.

One of the committee members, David Hindman, a local business owner, didn't think much of the idea at first, but, after spending months looking at the building and studying the finances of paying rent for office versus owning a building, he changed his mind and made a positive recommendation along with the rest of the committee.

The Towers, built in 1977, is owned by Petrola Family Real Estate. It was purchased in 1993 for $600,000.

The county already spends about $80,000 a year to rent offices in the Towers. Other agencies, such as the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Ohio Mid-Eastern Regional Education Services Agency, county soil and water conservation district and the Ohio State University Extension office, could move into the building.

The commissioners also want to tear down the Courthouse Annex building and make room for parking for residents coming to the courthouse for business. The annex building needs a new roof and only houses the board of elections. The board of elections could be moved into better office space.

The Towers has a lot of empty office space currently available.

The county spent $4,000 on a commercial appraisal, which said it would be a good investment. The heating and cooling system in the building is old and will need work in the years ahead, a report shows.

The commissioners envision a one-stop office building for residents so they don't have to drive to various offices throughout the county.

The commissioners are facing the same dilemma young couples often face: should they continue to pay rent or buy a house.

Economically, it makes sense to buy the Towers to save rent.

The purchase price is the bottom line.

If the county can reach a good deal on the building, then it would be a wise investment.

Hopefully, the owners of the Towers and the county can reach an agreement on a purchase price that would make it worthwhile for the county.

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