Finance committee recommends $35K for upgrades

ALPENA — The Alpena County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee voted 3-1 to recommend spending $35,000 for repairs and upgrades to the elevator at the district health department building.

The county took over ownership of the building late last year after the bonds for its construction were paid off. Besides the cost to repair the elevator, it is expected more spending will be necessary because of the poor condition the building.

According to Maintenance Superintendent Wes Wilder, the county already has put $18,277 into the elevator and then Monday it broke again. He said the new expense likely will bump up the cost to around $35,000 and it will need to come from general fund because the expense was not budgeted.

Commissioner Cam Habermehl said when the county assumed ownership of the building it was not in the type of condition the county had hoped. He said there are sure to be more expenditures for repairs and cleaning in the weeks and months ahead.

“It is in terrible shape. We had to put four cases of light bulbs in, replace 17 ballasts and there was just no maintenance done on that building,” Habermehl said. “It is pretty hard to imagine that you can have that many burned out light bulbs and not change them. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

Wilder said he has had another maintenance employee at the building working full time and the condition of the heating and cooling and plumbing hasn’t been looked into yet. He said there likely will be other costs coming, but didn’t want to speculate what they will be or for how much.

Treasurer Kim Ludlow said once rent from the three organizations that occupy the building begins to come in, the funds will be used to pay back the general fund, likely in October.

Ludlow said there are three tenants, and new lease agreements are being worked on with each but not finalized. As a result not all of the rent due to the county has been paid, but when the deal is done, she said it is expected the tenants will pay what is past due. In total the county will receive $162,879 in rent this year at a monthly rate of $13,656. That will increase by $423 next year and every year beyond that.

Habermehl said the original lease agreement after the building was built was odd. He said Alpena Community College owns the land and allowed the building to be built there, but a third party would have ownership until the bonds were paid off, which happened in November. Once the bonds were paid ownership transferred to the county for 20 years before it is transferred to ACC which will take over ownership from there.

Habermehl said the health department wanted to buy the building and the county was interested in just giving in to it. He said that wasn’t possible because any county owned property must be sold at market value and that would be more than the current tenants can afford.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.