Quorum votes to purchase property for voting machine storage

Nine of the  members of the Ashley County Quorum Court voted Tuesday to purchase the former Ideal True Value property in Hamburg for the storage of the county’s voting machines. Justice Rhonda Pippen voted against it, saying she could not support the purchase in light of its $285,000 price tag. (VAL GAUGHT/News Observer)




The Ashley County Quorum Court voted Tuesday to purchase a new property to store the county’s voting machines.

During the Quorum’s regular January meeting, Justice Carlton Lawrence told the court that the county offices had been looking for new storage areas to keep the machines.

Lawrence said that while looking, County Judge Jim Hudson was offered the old Ideal True Value property for $285,000. 

Lawrence also said the county could get the property interest-free if it was paid it off over a five-year period.

Justice Rhonda Pippen said she thought the price was too expensive and suggested that the county get an appraisal.

Some of the other justices agreed that there needed to be an appraisal before a price was agreed on.

“I agree that we need the property, but I don’t want to overpay,” Pippen said. 

Pippen made a motion to wait for an appraisal, though when the motion went to  vote it only received five “yes” votes. 

Justice Jeff Langley abstained from voting, telling his peers on the Court that he had conflict of interest. 

Following a discussion during which the justices tried to ascertain if Hudson would be the tie breaker or if there was another way to proceed, the Quorum’s attorney, David Harrod,  said that the motion would ultimately die since there weren’t enough “yes” votes to pass it.

The justices discussed the issue further. Justice Ron Miller said that he thought the no interest point made a big difference and was the reason he supported the purchase price without an appraisal.

Pippen said she felt like the county could purchase a cheaper property that would allow the same use.

Justice Greg Sivils said that he didn’t think it was a bad price, especially since it bordered the county yard. Hudson said the county would be expanding the work yard by simply cutting a chain link fence between the two properties and that purchasing a property in a different location would split the county yard into different locations. 

Sivils said having the proposed location would prevent county workers from having to drive around to different locations and maintain two separate locations.

“That makes it worth more to us than it will ever be on paper,” Sivils said. 

Sivils also said that the outbuildings were worth a lot more than people realized and that the county wasn’t the only buyer interested in the property.

Lawrence made a motion that the county purchase the property under the original agreement presented, which was that if they pay it off in five years there will be no interest.

Miller seconded that motion. It went to a vote and only Pippen voted no.

“I would say yes to the purchase, and no to the price, so no,” Pippen said.

The purchase of the building was approved with the nine “yes” votes.

In other news:

-The quorum adopted an ordinance for the CARES ACT funds. 

A total of $500,000 of the funds will be put in a CD; $107,000 will be put in the general fund and the remainder will be used to purchase a truck and pay off loans.

-The justices voted that Justice Ronnie Wheeler be this year’s representative for the court to represent the county at the state level.

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