County fund to handle expenses, rental income

A county fund that would collect rents from business tenants and pay related expenses received a unanimous final approval Monday from the Bartholomew County commissioners.

The action was taken after the commissioners approved a land swap with Columbus Regional Hospital last fall that provided the nursing division of the Bartholomew County Health Department with a permanent home at 2675 Foxpointe Drive.

But as a result of the swap, the county found itself serving as landlord to two tenants. There could be additional tenants after the county acquires the current Premier Ag building at 785 S. Marr Road later this year to house the Purdue Extension offices, county attorney Grant Tucker said.

Under the ordinance, the commissioners can use the fund for the following purposes:

To pay any dues, fees or assessments attributable to the properties.

To pay real estate, personal property and income taxes.

To pay for periodic maintenance and repair of the properties from which the funds are collected.

In the event that the cash balance in the fund would exceed the purposes, all excess funds can be used for purposes designated by the county commissioners.

During a Feb. 20 public hearing, local resident Mike Lovelace said he didn’t believe the county should be getting into the rental business. It would be too easy to take profits from one facility and spend them on another, he said.

While the commissioners and Tucker said they shared Lovelace’s concern, they stated it was their intention to use the rental income solely on the properties that generated them.

However, commissioner Carl Lienhoop acknowledged he doesn’t know how much the rentals will generate, and he cannot speak regarding what might be done after the current commissioners leave office.

As part of the land swap, Columbus Regional Health received three parcels of vacant property. One is the land where the former Bartholomew County Annex building stood near State and Mapleton streets until it was demolished last fall.

The other two are irregularly-shaped parcels, which total about 1.3 acres, located near the hospital’s mental health services building off Lincoln Park Drive.

No one spoke against the proposal when it received final approval Monday.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.