Gray City Council takes next step to buy building that will be used as police headquarters

City Council voted during a called meeting Monday to accept a bid for financing for a lease-purchase agreement to buy a building to be used as headquarters for the Gray Police Department.

The city has agreed to pay up to $463,000 for the building, depending on an appraisal and the seller completing some interior modifications and paving the parking lot.

"If it doesn't appraise that high, then we have the option of paying the appraisal amount or the seller can back out of the deal," said city attorney Joan Harris. "Everything is also contingent on us getting the financing."

The two-story building on Ga. 18 East near the county jail is owned by local contractor Chris Wiedner and is now headquarters for his Gray Builders Group. It has more than twice the space in downtown Gray the city now pays $18,000 a year to rent for its police department.

The city has leased space for the police department for a number of years and began negotiating during the spring with Wiedner about buying his building as a way to stop leasing. City officials backed off on buying the building at first, instead looking for land it could buy to build a police headquarters. But land prices and construction estimates proved too high, so they began talking with Wiedner again last month.

City officials will purchase the building through a lease-purchase agreement with the Georgia Municipal Association. The GMA will own the property until the loan is paid off, then the title goes to the city.

The council voted Monday to accept a bid from BB&T Bank to finance the loan at a 4.67 percent fixed rate for 20 years. The other bid it received was from Security Bank for a floating rate with a ceiling of 7 percent interest.

If the appraisal and other conditions are met, the closing date for the sale is Nov. 21.

The council also announced that it will hold public hearings on the city's 2009 budget and millage rate at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday. It is scheduled to adopt the budget on Nov. 10.

To contact writer Chuck Thompson, call 744-4489.