LIMA —Allen County Commissioners discussed during a Lima News Editorial Board meeting Tuesday how they plan to maintain and/or sell excess county-owned properties a point that was raised during the 2012 election.
“When it comes to properties, the county does own a handful. Some of them are very marketable,” said Commissioner Cory Noonan.
Allen county owns more than 80 residential, office and industrial properties, according to the Allen County Auditor’s website. The commissioners have been researching selling some of the vacant downtown properties in order to cut costs. They haven’t put anything in particular onto the market yet.
“We need to inventory what we have. What do we own, what can they be used for, are they marketable, can we sell them, are they used effectively? We have to address those issues,” Noonan said during his 2012 campaign. “We also have to address what needs do these facilities have, what needs to be fixed. Every day we put off fixing a leaky roof, a mold issue, whatever, the cost goes up the next day.”
County commissioners slowly have been taking steps to gather inventory and learn more about the properties they own before marketing and selling some of them.
“We did a tour of the downtown properties that the county owns,” Commissioner Jay Begg said. “We haven’t put our real estate inventory plan together yet, at least the way I’d like to see it. But we’ve been busy with other things, like budgeting and economic development. I do think that’s still definitely a need and a focus to get some professional guidance on what are the best uses for some of these properties.”
One of their initial steps involves working closely with the Port Authority of Allen County, which sold and handed off some of its properties to the county.
There are other steps that complicate the process. Some of the half-filled buildings work like a jigsaw puzzle.
“You still have some spaces in the few of the buildings” after moving other offices, said Commissioner Greg Sneary. “For example, in the Child Support building, there’s a few spaces there and in the 3rd District Court of Appeals, there’s another. So you do have some of those available, and it’s not always perfect scenario, and we’re trying to move more in that direction.”
State Revised Code also dictates there must be enough space for all employees.
“That’s been one of the challenges,” Begg said.
All commissioners agreed taking inventory and properly marketing the various properties is key.
“It’s moving along in the right direction,” Sneary said. “I can tell you that.”