updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

Ivanhoe Council votes to purchase new building

by Emily Waldrep

Ivanhoe City Council held a Special Meeting Tuesday, September 3, with all council members present to discuss the lease-purchase of a new city hall building. Council brought up the idea of leasing to buy a portable metal building that would be placed on the corner of Emily and Guinn Street in Ivanhoe. In the past, the city has rented the current city hall buildings from the IPIOA for $10,000 per year. The city claimed that by buying a new building they would no longer have to pay rent and could save money by owning their own building. On the other side, the IPIOA claims that the rent money that the city pays goes right back into the city to help with the lakes, parks and other aspects of Ivanhoe.

"I believe it is best to buy a building that the city owns that the city can control," said Ivanhoe Resident Karen Fiddler at the open forum session of the meeting. "Why rent when you can own? That goes for a private person, the city and the government."

On the other hand, many citizens were against the new building purchase and a petition was handed to the Board with 369 signatures against the purchase of a new building.

"I am strongly opposed to the purchase and relocation of the new city hall for Ivanhoe," said Ivanhoe Resident Connie Rudd. "It is not in the best interest of our city. Lease moneys from the city to the IPIOA are returned to our community in full in some form or fashion. The IPIOA and our parks and lakes are essential parts of the city of Ivanhoe. I have said it before and I will say it again, the IPIOA is merely the parks and recreation department for our city, nothing more. The mayor and this council should be concentrating their time and efforts on roads and dams, security, and cleaning up the many deplorable properties in our city."

Council moved into executive session to discuss details of the lease-purchase agreement. Council member Tommy Morris made a motion to discuss all details in an open session in front of the public. The motion failed 3 to 2, with Tom Welch, David Baier and Mark Elliot against keeping the executive session public and Tommy Morris and Joe McIntyre for making the executive session open to the public.

"Before we start doing this I have looked up a few things and I believe there are some things we have neglected to do," said council member Tommy Morris. "Section 2.0215 of the local government code says 'competitive bidding in relation to historically utilized businesses: a municipality making expenditures of more than $3,000 or less than $50,000 shall contact at least two historically under utilized businesses on a rotating basis based on information provided by the controller, pursuant. If the list fails to identify a historically under utilized business in the county in which the municipality is situated the municipality is exempt from this section.' We haven't done that to my knowledge."

"In Tyler County we do not have one specifically for that so we are exempt from it," replied council member Mark Elliot.

When asked for documentation, none could be provided.

"I do not have documentation for that right now. I gave a copy to Dave, and Dave says it's at his house. I guess you can take my word for it and take me to jail later, I don't care," said council member Tom Welch.

Council member Joe McIntyre also raised concerns about the presented cost of the building.

"I would just say that it might not happen today, but whatever we do and whatever we don't do, we certainly need to keep in mind that whatever we do, we are doing it as requested by the will of the people," McIntyre said. "If we spend the money to purchase a building we need to keep in mind to sit 50 or 60 people, we will need to expand the area presently decided for that building and I don't think the figures that were presented to us in executive session last month cover all of the cost that we will be faced with."

The proposed city hall building would be located at the corner of Emily and Guinn Street. At the end of fiscal year 2014 the city hall is planned to be paid for. According to council member David Baier, owning the building would save money and the city would be able to control the building.

"Since Ivanhoe became a city there has been an excess of $35,000 plus of tax payers money spent on a lease rent agreement," said Baier. "And what does the city have to show for it? Nothing."

Council member Morris pointed out that the city may not have a building to own, but the rent money helps to IPIOA to function within the city.

"You are looking at paying a minimum of $24,000 on this building, and in all likelihood probably closer to $50,000 when it is all said and done," Morris said. "If you pay $10,000 a year to the IPIOA for the rent, which actually goes back into the community and not to somebody living in Splendora, it would take two and a half years to pay off that $25,000. In the meantime if we put $25,000 back for three of four years you could build a nice building. You wouldn't have to do this knee jerk thing and go out in the middle of the forest by the old dog pound and put a building up, a metal building at that, it doesn't make since to me."

The mayor made a motion to move forward with the lease-purchase of a building for city hall, and was seconded. The motion passed with councilmen David Baier, Mark Elliot and Tom Welch for the lease-purchase of the building and council members Tommy Morris and Joe McIntyre against the lease-purchase of the building.

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