Statement on the BOE Purchase of Ballard-Hudson Promise Center Property

After I wrote my article More to the Kumho and Bibb BOE Tax Deal Than Meets the Eye earlier today this statement was released in regards to the recent sale of the Promise Center. I plan to write a longer article focusing on this issue soon but wanted to make sure and publish this statement in the entirety. The following statement represents the views of three of the eight BOE members. Lester Miller, Jason Downey, and Sue Sipe who were the dissenting votes in the sale of the Promise center.

December 9, 2014

RE: Statement on the BOE Purchase of Ballard-Hudson Promise Center Property

Tonight, the Bibb County Board of Education voted to purchase the Ballard-Hudson property known to most as the “Promise Center” for the price of 8.5 million dollars. The three of us voted against the purchase of this property, but respect the Board’s decision as a whole to buy the property.

The previous Board committed the System to a ten year lease on the Promise Center, resulting in payments that would total well over $15 million dollars at the end of the term if the purchase option was exercised. We believe that there were serious questions regarding the validity of the lease between the Bibb County Board of Education and the previous owners. However, a majority of this Board chose not to pursue any action concerning this lease. Given the controversy surrounding the failed attempts to obtain a Federal Grant, and the community outcry regarding the initial sale of the property by a previous Board for 220,000 dollars, we could not in good conscience vote to approve the purchase of this property for over 8 million dollars.

With the recent 3.1 million dollar grant awarded to Bibb County Schools to renovate the property and expand our vocational partnership with Central Georgia Technical College, and the significant upgrades made to the property, the Promise Center Property will be a significant enhancement to our Career Academy initiatives. Additionally, we have tenants ready to commit to leases at the property, generating income for the county on the property.

Moving forward, we hope this property will be put to great use for the students in Bibb County. While the three of us stood in opposition earlier, we stand together with the Board moving forward in working to make the most out of a situation we believe is not optimal.

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