COLUMBIA, 5/2/10 (Beat Byte) -- Paging Dr. Robert McDavid (left, Columbia Business Times photo) to the Budget Emergency Room -- Stat!
In an economy so tight that new Columbia City Council members Daryl Dudley and Gary Kespohl ran on frugality at City Hall, Monday night Council members will vote on continuing a budget-busting lease in an aging office building that has "temporarily" housed the city's Water and Light Department -- for nearly 4 years at a cost approaching $1 million!
As a Boone Hospital Center Trustee, Columbia Mayor McDavid negotiated a Boone Hospital lease with health care giant BJC that reportedly saved our community nearly $100 million. Now, Dr. McDavid may need to go into action again.
At nearly $19,000 per month, the rent covers the old Williams-Keepers building at 105 E. Ash, directly across from the Columbia Housing Authority's Park Avenue housing projects. City Hall also pays for all utilities and "all taxes imposed upon the leased premises," including property taxes, which in 2009 were $26,014.84, or over $2,000/month in addition to the rent.
City Hall subleased the 45-year-old building -- owned since 2000 by Columbia-Knipp Properties, an arm of noted equestrian horse breeders Ollie Mae and Anna Marie Knipp of Jefferson City -- from previous tenant Williams Keepers, an accounting firm that moved to Columbia's Shelter Office Plaza. The building's high price has rankled other Council members who took office after the sublease was approved in 2006.
Whether or not the building would command the same rent -- or maintain such a large tenant -- in this tough economy might have been a point of negotiation. But the Staff report attached to the proposed approval mentions nothing about how the new lease was negotiated, nor how the price reflects the building's current location, age, and condition.
But the Staff report does brag about the new "reduced price" -- from $18,850/month for the last 4 years to $18,766/month -- a whopping $84/month reduction.