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On a vote of five to one the Salmon City Council has decided not to buy the Library Building adjacent to City Hall. The vote came at the September 2 meeting of the council after a final discussion on the potential purchase.

Councilmen Ken Hill and Rob Jackson along with Mayor Leo Marshall had met with Library Board Representatives earlier in the week and had offered to purchase the building with a down payment of $40,000 plus $10,000 a year for ten years for a total of $140,000.

The Library Board countered with a purchase price of $200,000 for the building currently assessed at $285,000. It asked for a $50,000 down payment and $10,000 a year for 15 years or $15,000 a year for ten years.

During the discussion leading to the decision Councilman Jim Bockelman wondered what would be involved in a bond process if the public really wants the city to buy the building. He also questioned if no one knows what to do with the building, why buy it?

Councilman Fred Waidely said although his sampling of public opinion was small he was not as in favor of the purchase as previously. He pointed out the city infrastructure already includes 20 buildings, several miles of sidewalks, 33 miles of streets, alleys, three city parks, a swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, the Sacajawea Center complex, the cemetery, several bridges and culverts, 40 miles of water line, 40 miles of sewer line, many police and public works department vehicles, a sewer bond and a water bond. He said it would not be good business to add another building that would require remodeling and maintenance. He also said “no” to moving the Police Department to town

Councilman Rob Jackson said he was on the fence about the purchase. He said a good use for the building would have to come first and that whatever the decision, something final needed to be decided by the next council meeting.

Councilman Ken Hill stated he was in favor of the purchase and also wanted to see a plan for its use and how to afford it.

Councilman Jim Baker said the building is in good shape and he would like the city to purchase it but he can’t figure out what to do with it since the city has no need for the space. He would not be in favor of buying the building and then renting it since that would constitute competition with private businesses. It has been said that if the city owned the building the Museum would have a better chance of getting grants but Baker cited grant monies that have declined over the years.

Councilman Russ Chinske said if the city can’t afford to buy the building it shouldn’t do it. He mentioned the list of projects lined up for Contingency Fund money and said he wouldn’t support the purchase if it meant a raise in taxes unless the raise was approved by a public vote. He said he’d still love to see city ownership but if there is no plan for the building’s use the city needs to get out of the way.

City Attorney Fred Snook spoke in favor of city ownership saying that buying something worth $285,000 for $50,000 down and an annual payment of $10,000 would have zero impact on the city budget. He said the building would be a valuable asset and would solve the problem of who is going to be the city’s next door neighbor.

Library Board Representative Ann Loucks expressed appreciation for all the city efforts over the past two years. She reminded the council that if it weren’t for the addendum negotiated a couple of years ago the building would have reverted to the city upon library vacation and the city would still be faced with its maintenance and what to do with it. Loucks also said there are many complaints about the Police Department’s lack of downtown visibility. As far as the potential of the Museum obtaining grants she said the Steele Reese Foundation has always been extremely accommodating and willing to help. She said Eleanor Steele Reese always favored helping the museum and the library. Loucks said the foundation is continuing to follow that thinking.

Waidely then made a motion to cease discussion and tell the library the city is not going to buy the library. The motion passed with Ken Hill casting the only “no” vote. The council then unanimously passed a motion to get an appraisal on the city owned land under the library.

During the council’s Roundtable discussion Attorney Snook commented that one use for the library building had not been thought of and that was to, “…sell the darn thing.” He said if the city could buy something worth $285,000 for $200,000 with a $50,000 down payment and then own both the building and the land, it would be a lot simpler for the city to complete a sale and earn 80 some thousand dollars.

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