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An Ad Hoc Committee was appointed last July to determine if there is a need for the city to buy the adjacent-to-City Hall Public Library building which sits on city owned land.

Salmon City Councilman Ken Hill reported on the committee’s August 14 meeting. He told the September 4 meeting of the City Council that the group consensus was the city should buy the structure and move the Police Department back to town and into the building. He said Police Chief KV Felker will look into the necessary building modifications, resurrect an occupancy plan from several years ago and calculate potential costs. Hill said the Library Board will hire a commercial, licensed appraiser from Boise to conduct the appraisal. A professional commercial appraisal is a legal requirement in order for the city to consider a purchase.

Councilman Jim Baker requested the evening’s agenda be amended to include a further discussion of the topic.

In a lease agreement between the city and the Library Board it is stated that the city has a right of first refusal when a decision is made to sell the building. Baker was a Library Board member for 10 years and when the discussion reopened he said he is concerned about the Ad Hoc Committee wanting the police department to occupy the building because that brings on obligations. He said the city spent from $20,000 to $30,000 to move the department to the Sacajawea Center. Baker said to move the department into what is now the Library Building will obligate the city to an expenditure of somewhere around $300,000. He thinks the city would have to go to voters and ask for a mil levy. He said the conversation is only at the beginning and no one knows where the money would come from if a purchase decision is made. He viewed the board’s decision to hire a commercial appraiser as placing the city under an obligation.

City Attorney Fred Snook stated that under the law the city has to be able to review a commercial appraisal before it can make an offer, if that is what it decides to do. The city may offer less than the appraisal but cannot pay more than the appraised value. Snook said that whether or not the city makes an offer the Library Board needs that appraisal before offering it on the open market. A commercial appraisal was also promised in the right of first refusal agreement. He emphasized the board’s decision to obtain a commercial appraisal does not mean the city is already obligated to buy the building.

An appraisal from the Lemhi County Assessor’s office put the building’s value at around $300,000. Baker summed up his feelings by saying the Ad Hoc Committee’s purpose is to assist the city in determining if the city wants to incur the financial obligation needed to purchase the building and if the city is going to make beneficial use of the investment.

Council members agreed that the purpose of the Ad Hoc Committee is to first determine if the city has a need for the building and then to determine all options.

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