RICHARDSON: An accounting

July 13, 2014 

It’s sometimes funny how facts can be misconstrued. People twist history to their liking because they understand few people will remember what actually happened or take the time to research what happened.

Such is the case of the Promise Center complex, the old Ballard Hudson Middle School property sold by the Bibb County school system in 2009 as surplus for $220,000. There have been many opinions as to how the school system signed a 10-year lease for space in the Promise Center, but let’s just take an accounting from documents acquired through the open meetings/open records act from the Bibb County school system.

On June 27, 2012, the Bibb County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Promise Neighborhood initiative and joined with 35 local not-for-profit entities. In that document, 1780 Anthony Road (Promise Center) was identified as the preferred site to house the Promise Neighborhood initiative. The resolution agreed to the alignment of resources from “operations, curriculum, and programs of Ingram-Pye, Hartley, Ballard and Southwest, not to exceed $250,000 per school, per year.”

In Section 2 of the resolution, the board “authorized and directed” (emphasis added) the president of the board of education (Tommy Barnes) or the vice president in his absence “concurrently with the superintendent (Romain Dallemand) to “identify the resources to be realigned and allocated to support the MPN initiative, its partners and the Department of Education Promise Neighborhood (DOEPN) application for implementation grant and execute such letters, commitments, applications, leases, contracts or agreements on behalf of the board of education ... provided however, that no such documents shall act to bind the board of education beyond the resources commitment amounts identified in Section 1 ($250,000 per school, per year) or beyond the life of the DOEPN program, or Dec. 31, 2023, whichever is later.”

The resolution came through the Instructional Services Committee. The motion to pass it during the full board meeting was made by board member Lynn Farmer and seconded by board member Gary Bechtel. The resolution was signed by board President Tommy Barnes and board Secretary Lynn Farmer.

On July 25, 2012, Ron Collier, the school district’s chief financial officer, received a letter from the superintendent that said in the second paragraph, “The staff and I have reviewed the operations of each of these schools (Ingram-Pye, Hartley. Ballard Hudson and Southwest) and identified the resources to be reallocated from each for the full $250,000, the combined resources to serve as a demonstrated match under the Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for a total of $1,000,000. ...

“... I hereby direct you to prepare a check or wire transfer (as CGPICD may direct to the school district to CGPICD along with the demonstrated reallocation of school budget showing the source of the funds immediately for review and signature by the president of the board and me.

“You are directed to have this check or wire transfer authorization and requested current-budgeted funds reallocation to me no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, 2012.”

On July 27, 2012, a lease agreement was entered into, pursuant to Section 2 of the resolution with the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development Inc. (owner of the Promise Center property), to lease 50,000 square feet.

The lease was to run from July 1, 2013, until June 30, 2023. The lease was prepared by the law firm of Smith, Hawkins, Hollingsworth & Reeves and signed by the president of the board and the late Jimmie Samuel, president of CGPICD.

The annual rent stated in the lease is $575,000 per year in monthly amounts of $47,916.67. The lease specifies that “improvements or modifications required by or incident to tenants intended use of the premises ... furnishings, accessibility, etc., will be the sole responsibility and made at the sole cost of the tenant or tenant’s sublessee.”

There is a purchase option that begins July 1, 2022, and runs to June 30, 2023. If the option is exercised, “The tenant and landlord shall mutually agree to a Georgia-licensed real estate appraiser to perform a valuation of the property.”

Just the beginning. More next week.

Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at crichardson@macon.com. Tweet@crichard1020.

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