Council decides to spend money from sale of CNS assets to build new police HQ
One Cairo city councilman wasted no time in moving to restrict proceeds from an upcoming sale of the city’s assets in CNS Cable to the Southwest Georgia Governmental Services Authority.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas, who serves as chairman of the council’s finance committee, made a recommendation Monday night to reserve the estimated $3.4 million payout for the construction of the new Cairo Police Department headquarters.
Douglas said the full amount of the proceeds from the sale of the assets should be “set aside in a separate account and earmarked for construction of the police department. Whatever is left, the council can decide what to do with it.”
The finance committee chair said that money may need to be reserved should the city ever be required to pay the SGGSA for future CNS investment or related appropriations.
“I don’t want this money to get intermingled with other monies,” Douglas said.
According to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton, the bonds to finance the purchase of the CNS assets by the SGGSA will be issued early next month and the city could expect to receive its share of the bond proceeds before May 1.
Earlier this month the council authorized the purchase of real estate to construct the new police headquarters at the intersection of First Street N.W. and Third Avenue N.W. at a cost of $47,544.32.
Addleton has recommended budgeting $2 million for the construction and equipping the new police headquarters in the 2017-2018 operating budget, but no final decision has been made.
The city is looking to double the size of the work area available to police from the 5,000 square feet at its current location in the former Seaboard Coastline train depot to a new 10,000 square foot facility.
Councilman Ernest Cloud suggested this week that later next month the council schedule a field trip to tour new police headquarters constructed in other Georgia communities.
Addleton said that he had recently toured the new police headquarters in Centerville outside of Warner Robbins, which is a similar sized city and has a similar sized police force.
The city manager said that Sylvester also has a relatively new police headquarters the council might consider touring.
Councilman Jerry Cox said a new police station is a “definite need” for the community. However, Cox also wants to immediately begin exploring ways the depot could be used in the redevelopment and promotion of the downtown business district.
Cox also reminded the council of his experience in overseeing construction of new facilities with the local school system and in private industry. He said he was eager to participate and in the end the new police headquarters would not only be economical, but a facility the community could be proud of.
Councilman Douglas described the current facility as “sub-par” and said the police force and community deserved nothing less than a “first-class police department.”
“We will soon have access to fund so that we can provide that,” Douglas said.
Councilman Cloud offered a motion, which was seconded by Douglas, to deposit the estimated $3.4 million in bond proceeds in an interest bearing account earmarked for construction of the new Cairo Police Department headquarters.
Mayor Bobby Burns asked if the account would be put out to bid in order to obtain the highest rate of return. According to Addleton, the city will solicit bids from the local financial institutions before deciding where to deposit the restricted funds.
Cloud’s motion passed 3-0.
The city council had authorized the sale of the city’s CNS assets last fall and had anticipated receiving approximately $4.5 million, but the SGGSA was unsuccessful in being able to issue $40 million in bonds, so earlier this month the city council reauthorized the sale based on a $30 million issuance which would net the city approximately $3,432,000.
CNS owes the City of Cairo general fund $4,690,000, and according to city officials that debt to the general fund has helped keep CNS afloat in Cairo since it was launched on June 27, 2001.