Sale of Health Services building to Lowes not a “done deal”
Commissioner Bill McClure
St Johns County, FL
I have received a number of calls and e-mail from residents concerned about comments brought before the St Johns County Commission during our regular meeting Tuesday; relative to the sale of the Health and Human Services building to Lowes and construction of a new clinic and offices by the County Administration Building.
I voiced my objections during the meeting to the diversion of cash reserves today to pay for site engineering for a building that may never be built. In my view, it was premature to spend that money before further investigation and public input is considered.
I see no point in being pressured to decide on the appropriation of reserve money when we will not know if Lowes is, in fact, moving forward with the purchase. The deal with Lowes is not final. They still have the option to walk away, as with any real estate transaction.
We will know more on March 31, 2013.
Regardless, the sale or demolition of the existing county building is a separate issue from where we ultimately are to relocate those vital services — and where, if anywhere, we need to build a new clinic facility.
Taxpayers should be aware that if we build a building, it is exempt from ad valorem tax. I am proposing moving the VA clinic and health department not more than 2 miles away from the current facility; or, perhaps across the street into a building that pays property tax.
It is too seldom that the county gets to partner with local businesses and property owners to directly participate in economic development — however, we have that opportunity with the reestablishment of our state and federal tenants, as well as our own Health and Human Services Department, while keeping the property on the tax rolls.
I will make every effort to keep the public informed as the transaction with Lowes progresses and we have better explored alternatives available to the Health and Human Services Department.