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Rupert Howell Column

Rupert Howell

Is county worse off with property in Rolando’s hands?

I’m trying to make lemonade out of lemons here. I don’t see that Roland Butler has done a lot of damage to Panola County by taking possession of the old Plumley Rubber Company building near Crenshaw.

Take away the missed deadlines, broken promises, no-shows, egos, and pride and Panola County is not that worse off because Butler, or his lending agency, holds the deed to that property.

Nobody else was clamoring to get a hold of that property before Butler. The previous owner wouldn’t take it  when the county offered to give it away.

The building and land may have been worth $200,000 by some estimates. It was in a sad state of repair with missing electrical wiring and a water supply that was less than potable.

Add that the building has been revamped and is now functional and that the county is owed approximately $18,000 per year in ad valorem taxes, at least something is coming from the previously “derelict” property from which the county was receiving zero income.

Add depreciation and/or maintenance and the county was actually losing money while the facility was sitting there before being “given” to Butler.

Had promises not been made and deadlines set for operation and production to begin, the continued vacancy of the building may not have chaffed citizens so badly. The fact that a lending institution could end up with the property is not so bad either. That agency would be interested in occupancy whether through another owner or whoever and would be an additional concern marketing the property. They would also be responsible for taxes.

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses.

If I had $200,000 worth of property and could give it to someone for eight or so percent plus payment (i.e. the $17,815 in county ad valorem tax) per annum for an indefinite period, I would jump at it.

This all assumes that property taxes will be paid. If the property’s current appraisal of approximately $692,000 is a true indication of its worth, chances are somebody will pay the taxes.

The sour side is that Butler promised jobs, giving the economically deprived area a glimmer of hope. That glimmer grows dimmer.

It may not be illegal, but it sure has been tacky the way this transaction has been handled.

The saga continues . . . hopefully with interest—in the form of tax payments.