by Alan McArthur
On Friday the Platte County R-3 Board of Education voted to purchase the Stiles Building for $1.9 million for future use as the district’s central administrative office, bus barn, and early childhood center.
Board of Education members approved the purchase of the building using money from the reserve Fund 4 and also a lease/purchase option. The total cost for purchase and remodel is estimated at $4.5 million.
The estimated cost to remodel the building ranges from $2 million to $2.5 million. According to Mark Harpst, superintendent, the number is just a rough estimate and the district won’t have a firm number until it gets bids for the work.
Harpst said the district has several methods available to pay for the remodel including using a bond issue, a lease/purchase agreement or paying the cost from reserve funds. The board has not determined the method of funding and will have to make a decision at a future board meeting.
Harpst estimates the bid process will begin within the next six months if the board decides to use a lease/purchase option for financing or it would be after April if the board decides to use a bond issue for funding.
The Stiles Building is located at 998 Platte Falls Road, next to the Platte City Middle School at the edge of the R-3 campus in Platte City.
The building was originally constructed to be a warehouse for Stiles Enterprises, which sells insulation. The building was erected in 2006, however it has never been occupied.
The R-3 board voted twice on the issue on Friday.
The first vote was set to have the full cost of the building $1.9 million come out of the reserve fund.
According to Harpst, the fund has approximately $4.6 million in it.
The result from the board’s vote was 3-3, which means the measure failed. Bob Shaw, board president, Dave Holland and Patricia Stinnett voted against it.
Members Mary Temperelli, Dick Modin, and Karen Wagoner voted in favor.
Board member Carey Rolofson was absent from the meeting.
A second motion was made to use $1.5 million from the reserve fund and use a lease/purchase agreement to pay the remaining $400,000 back to Fund 4.
“I don’t want to pull that big of an amount out all of a sudden, if something comes up, we might need it,” said Holland, board member. “I don’t feel comfortable with this. I can’t say I’m thrilled about the lease/purchase, but it is more palpable than out of reserves.”
The new motion passed by the vote of 4-2. Shaw and Stinnett voted against the measure and Holland, Temperelli, Modin and Wagoner voted for the measure.
Under the new measure, the total cost of $1.9 million will be paid from the reserves, with the $400,000 lease/purchase cost being used to pay the district back that $400,000 portion of the purchase price.
As a condition of the purchase there are five stipulations included in the agreement.
First the price for the building will be set at $1.9 million. Second, the district must complete the walking path behind the building, which is estimated to cost $10,000. Third, the district and property owners must close on the sale within 60 days. Fourth, the district will generate the real estate contract for the purchase of the building. And finally, Chicago Title will close the sale.
Harpst said the district was going to have to do the work on the trail anyway because they will tear down the hill to provide access for buses.
The board members who voted against the purchase each had a reason, and both say they support the majority of the board’s decision.
“I feel that either way it was a lose-lose situation,” said Stinnett, board member. “Neither option was a great one. Timing is everything, either it takes away from the bonding capacity or the lease/purchase takes the control away from the voters. I am in a position to support the will of the majority of this board.”
“I’ve talked about my opinion on this issue before, and I think it should go to the vote of the people,” said Shaw. “The majority of this board decided to purchase the building, and I support the board’s decision 100 percent.”
When the issue first became public, several district leaders said they saw the chance to buy the building at the then asking price of $2.4 million as an "excellent opportunity." On Sept. 5, The Landmark revealed the county's appraisal lists the value at $1.6 million. An appraiser hired by R-3 listed the value at $1.9 million.