Supervisors finalize sale of county property

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Lafayette County officials, after more than four years of negotiations, accepted the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s offer on the sale of county-owned property where the current health department, state driver’s license and extension office are located.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at their regular meeting Monday to accept the $1.422 million offer from MDOT, which needs the property for the widening project along Highway 7.

In August, the supervisors met in executive session to discuss the MDOT offer and emerged with the announcement the deal had been struck.

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At the time, Board president Jeff Busby said he and his fellow supervisors were pleased with the purchase price.

“We had it independently appraised and it is very much in line with what we got back from our appraiser,” Busby said. “Yes, the county is pleased. Is it enough to replace the buildings? No it’s not but I think it’s fair.”

The agreement includes MDOT purchasing the driver’s license bureau and a portion of the health department parking lot. The supervisors were hopeful MDOT would buy the entire property. Parking will be an issue for the health department so county officials plan to remove the extension office building and place additional parking on the site. They will also have to do some infrastructure work when those buildings are removed.

New facilities in the works

Busby said county officials have some other decisions to make. The health department, which is only open three days a week, will remain where it is, while the driver’s license bureau and the extension office will be relocated on a portion of the 150 acres the county purchased on County Road 406.

He said county officials are hopeful the driver’s license bureau and extension office can remain where they are while the new facility is being constructed rather than being temporarily relocated.

“We are hoping that by the time they get ready to tear those buildings down, we will have something built,” Busby said.

County officials also plan to relocate the justice court building, which is overcrowded, as well as the department of human services, which is in an old building, according to Busby. County officials are looking to construct a complex on County Road 406 to house all of these facilities, as well as a multi-purpose facility.

“We’re in the process now of getting cost estimates of replacing those buildings and putting them on County Road 406,” Busby said.

Municipal court and justice court?

Busby added that the county has also had “very preliminary” talks with Oxford officials about including municipal court being included with the justice court facility.

“We’ve had friendlies with the city and we know they need room for municipal court,” Busby said. “If we can save the tax payer money by having one building for both to carry on business and carry on court, we will certainly look into that.”

Busby said there are “a lot of details that have to be worked out” for the city and county to go in together.

“It may not work,” Busby said. “But it’s what we would like to do and we are going to try and get with their board and move forward with one facility instead of two.”