Cumberland supervisors give Stamey negotiation power

Published 12:26 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

In addition to setting a tax rate and signing off on the budget, Cumberland supervisors made one more change during the month of April. They gave County Administrator Derek Stamey some more ability to negotiate. 

Previously, the Cumberland County Code didn’t allow administrators to enter into a Letter of Intent. That means he couldn’t negotiate to purchase, sell or trade real estate. Supervisors changed that in their Tuesday, April 16 meeting, unanimously voting to give him this authority. 

“On behalf of the county, I can’t buy, sell or trade real estate,” Stamey said. “The board has to give me that authorization to do so. Staff had requested this so I can at least begin the negotiations, the research and interactions needed to potentially purchase the property.”

Email newsletter signup

He’s referring to a piece of property located at 1496 Anderson Highway. Cumberland County staff have been looking at this as a potential purchase, to solve a long-running problem. 

“The reason we’re looking at this property is we have several buildings that house county functions that need tremendous amounts of attention, state mandated attention,” Stamey told the board during their April 16 meeting. “Primarily when it comes to election security and things of that nature.” 

Basically, the state has criticized the condition of some Cumberland facilities. You can’t really ignore that or you face potential fines being handed down. So there are two options. Option One: you rebuild and renovate the current structures. Option Two: You find a newer building in better condition, one that better suits your needs. Staff want to go with Option Two. 

“The goal here is instead of pouring money into a building that may not meet our long-term needs, we are looking at potentially purchasing a building where we could relocate certain county services,” Stamey said. 

Cumberland supervisors consider options

Stamey argued this would be a better option, with a newer building being safer, with more ways to set it up and serve the public. Would 1496 Anderson Highway be that building? There’s no definite answer yet, but he asked for the ability to negotiate, to see if it could work. 

“There would be a process related to it,” Stamey said. “We would engage an appropriate real estate firm to do an appraisal, assess the property and any agreement we come to would be contingent on an inspection.” 

And then, any negotiated deal would have to come back to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote. To be clear, Stamey would not have the power to actually buy the property. However, he asked for the authority to be the first administrator in Cumberland history to be able to negotiate a Letter of Intent and reach terms on a deal, before bringing it back. Even any Letter of Intent reached would say it’s not final until a vote is taken by Cumberland supervisors. 

Supervisors agreed, giving him the authority by a unanimous vote. 

But let’s say the county can reach an agreement on the Anderson Highway property or another piece. What would happen to the current structure? Stamey said county staff would try to put it on the market. 

“We would try to resell that property and try to recoup some of the funds used to purchase,” Stamey said.