Nearly two years ago the Baldwin County Board of Education agreed to a major land purchase, and it looks as though that transaction is close to coming to fruition, according to discussions held at Monday’s BOE work session.
Back in late 2017 board members resolved to purchase the 21 acres next to Baldwin High School heading in the direction of the Milledgeville bypass. Owned by the state, the land is the current home of Georgia State Patrol Post 33 and also includes the property right next door where the Georgia Forestry Commission’s district office used to be located. The price agreed upon was and still is, $1.2 million.
There have been a couple of factors contributing to the lengthy purchasing process. First, the site had to undergo multiple tests and be given clearance. With all that having been accomplished, the second hurdle is the one currently holding up the deal — the GSP needs a new space to house its operations. Mike Couch of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority, who helped broker the deal between the Baldwin County BOE and the state, has identified a space on the CSH campus, but it is not yet ready per school Superintendent Dr. Noris Price.
“We were going to go to closing last week, but we found out at the last minute that the State Patrol barracks that they’re moving into on the campus of Central State Hospital was not ready,” she said Monday. “They needed another two weeks, so we have postponed the closing and we do not have any date at this time but we are getting closer to acquiring the property.”
A couple of possible uses for the GSP land and building, in particular, have been discussed at past board meetings. One would be a district-owned alternative school site since the existing one is in a leased space. Another option is a new site for the GNETS (Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) program, which was formerly housed in Davis Elementary until the state deemed the facility unfit three years ago.
Once the deal is complete, the $1.2 million purchase price for the two parcels (GSP and forestry sites) will come out of the school district’s building fund, which currently has a balance of around $1.5 million, per the superintendent. She said the school system looked into the possibility of using ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds for the purchase before learning that is not a possibility.
School district getting additional discount on city stormwater fee
The city recently imposed a stormwater management fee on its water customers, of which the Baldwin County School District is one, based on the amount of property owners’ water runoff into the city system. The fee comes to about $4 a month for most single-family residential properties, but the school district was initially faced with the much larger figure of $4,000 per billing cycle.
School officials contested the fee, saying nearly all of the water runoff from its properties goes into drains and pipes the school district maintains and out to ponds or other natural resources. Price updated school board members Monday, telling them that after multiple meetings with the city, the school system has been granted a 70 percent credit toward the stormwater management fee. The district has been given a significant amount of paperwork to fill out to obtain the credit and is in the process of completing it.
“We do need some assistance from the city in filling out that whole packet, so we’re in the process of doing that,” Price said. “We’ll keep you posted on that, but in order to get the credit we have to fill out the application.”