Members of the Paris Board of Aldermen pushed any discussions and potential decisions about the future of Paris City Hall until November.
Board members made decision during their September meeting last week after a presentation from Marjorie Rehkow, a Paris native who is spearheading a movement to organize a Main Street Missouri affiliate nonprofit.
A consulting report presented to the Board of Aldermen in May presented some stark choices on the fate of the aging City Hall building. At stake is whether the city spends millions of dollars to repair the aging building or demolish it and start over.
Rehkow wants Downtown Paris organization, which was formed this summer, to take ownership of the building and lease it back to the city. Downtown Paris, she says, would be positioned to apply for various grants and sell tax credits to restore City Hall.
“Our thoughts are to get the city to stay here rather than move your offices and equipment…by transferring ownership to the nonprofit,” she said.
Rehkow told the board that there are tax credits a nonprofit such as Downtown Paris could sell as part of the effort to save City Hall.
“Main Street has a list of people who want to purchase tax credits,” she said. Rehkow envisions Downtown Paris selling what she calls “70 percent tax credits,”
Tax credits, unlike deductions, are taken directly off the taxes owed by an individual, meaning that for every dollar purchased, the taxes owed are reduced by 70 cents. This would be for state returns only.
However, she said that Downtown Paris needs to continue building an organization, which is why she asked for the discussion to be delayed until November.
Downtown Paris was approved last month by the Main Street Missouri organization, which helps guide communities through revitalization projects.
The group is trying to raise $9,600 to qualify for a matching grant for services from Main Street Missouri. At the same time, the group is seeking recognition from the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit organization. Main Street Missouri is an umbrella organization that works with more the 130 rural communities across Missouri to pump new life into once-thriving downtown districts.
As a 501 (c) 3, Downtown Paris, as a nonprofit group, can apply for grants and sell tax credits to investors for revitalization projects.
Here is what is facing the city of Paris as Aldermen decide the fate of city hall:
An architectural firm, Poepping, Stone, Bach & Associates Inc., reported major issues with the City Hall building earlier this year. It presented the board with two options — spend $4.1 million over the next 20 years to stabilize the City Hall or demolish the existing structure and build a new city hall for $1.9 million over the same 20-year period.
The building, which has served as Paris City Hall since 2005, has significant issues. The roof over the main building and the roof over the auditorium desperately need to be replaced as city staff place plastic tubs on the second floor during rain storms to capture the water that cascades through the porous structure.
The initial cost of renovating the building is lower in the first year — an estimated $629,000, which is offset long term by an estimated $246,000 in operating expenses over the next 20 years, according to the report.