The Warner Robins Municipal Court is moving to North Davis Drive.
The City Council on Monday approved $300,000 toward buying a vacant building at 308 N. Davis Drive to become the new home of city court, which handles traffic tickets and other misdemeanor violations. Mayor Randy Toms said in a year the city will pay the owner, Joey Prince, another $300,000 and then the city will own the property outright, for a total cost of $600,000.
He said that is being done so that the city can go ahead with renovations of the building and start using it, without coming up with all of the money up front. The money is coming from the city’s reserve fund. Although he voted for the expenditure, Councilman Chuck Shaheen questioned the use of the reserve fund. The fund is money set aside to help the city get through times of reduced revenue and to maintain a sound financial footing.
He said in the past year the council has taken $5.1 million from the reserve fund.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “If you go to borrow money and need a bond, they are going to look at you taking the money out of the reserve account. It’s just not a blank check.”
Toms said the building has more than 15,000 square feet of space. The building has been used as office space and as a rental event center. Toms said it doesn’t need much renovation and he expected the court could be operating there in a couple of months.
The court is currently at the Houston Health Pavilion, formerly the old Houston Mall, on North Houston Road. Toms said the Houston Medical Center wants the space. He also said the move puts the court closer to City Hall, and it will have extra space the city can lease out, possibly to the probation service.
“It gives us options down there that I think are worth exploring, but it also gives us plenty of space for our court system,” Toms said.
Houston County tax records indicate the property is valued at $707,600.