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Milton to propose that school district buy city building

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
August 28, 2011
— As the Milton School District approaches the hour that it asks the district’s voters Monday to authorize buying the Daland building, a new suitor is offering up another property.

The city of Milton wants the district to consider buying the Shaw Municipal Building.


City officials plan to pitch an offer to sell the school district the three-floor, city-owned Shaw building at a special meeting Monday night, before the district takes its Daland building proposal to the electorate.


The Shaw building, city-owned, is located at 430 E. High St. It houses City Hall, the school district’s central offices and the Milton Public Library.


Details are few, but Mayor Tom Chesmore said the city plans to make the offer and its fine points public at the meeting Monday.


Chesmore said the offer is part of a “huge jigsaw puzzle” of plans by the city, which could include the city selling the Shaw building and moving City Hall to another location.


“There is a plan that we have, and one of the key pieces of that puzzle is whether or not the school district is interested in purchasing the Shaw (building) from the city,” Chesmore said in an interview.


Chesmore said the city is considering selling the Shaw building whether or not the school district is interested.


The city and school district have been in talks over the offer since Aug. 16, said school board president Rob Roy.


Roy said the city’s offer seems to have emerged at an odd time, considering the district has spent months examining plans to buy the Daland Building and is now taking the plan to the voters.


“The city really waited until the last minute to bring this to us,” Roy said.


The district holds a purchase option on the Daland building, which is at 448 E. High St., and has agreed to a sale price of $850,000. The district seeks to move its central offices and MECAS alternative school there.


The district has done environmental testing and building inspections at the Daland building, and estimates that owning the building would save $65,000 a year over what it now spends renting space for its district office and alternative school. The district would have to spend an additional $500,000 in upgrades to the building.


Even if the electorate votes in favor of buying the Daland building on Monday, the district isn’t tied to the purchase, and doesn’t have to immediately decide how to pay for the building—although it could move forward on the purchase as early as Monday.


That, Chesmore said, is one of the reasons why the city wanted to pitch its offer Monday.


“We feel we have something to offer them here. We’re willing to sell the Shaw to them for a very good price,” Chesmore said, saying that the deal would “save the school district a boatload of money.”


Roy said he’s skeptical because it’s not clear whether the Shaw building would fit the district’s needs, or how much it could cost to upgrade the building. And he pointed out that the building doesn’t have a true assessed value, because it’s a government building and isn’t on the tax rolls.


Roy said he’s interested in hearing more details on the offer.


“We have to listen and see what the city has to offer,” Roy said. “If they make us a great offer, we might want to consider it.”


If the district did plan to buy the Shaw building, it would likely require approval through a second electorate meeting which would have to be scheduled later, Roy said.


IF YOU GO

The Milton School District will hear a presentation from the city of Milton at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29 at City Hall, 430 E. High St., Milton on an offer that emerged this week to sell the school district the Shaw Municipal Building.


The city’s offer comes as the district plans a special electorate meeting asking district residents to vote to authorize the district to buy another property, the former Daland Fine Arts Center, 448 E. High St.


The electorate meeting is at 6:30 p.m., Monday Aug. 29, at Northside Intermediate School, 159 Northside Drive, Milton, following the joint meeting between the city and the school district. Depending on the outcome of the electorate vote, the school board could discuss financing options for the Daland building.



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