Sales add another plus to new highway complex

A KEY PART OF the proposal to build a new county Highway Department headquarters in the town of Plymouth was the sale of the three existing facilities it would replace.

The $25 million complex at the intersection of State 67 and County J will consolidate offices, personnel, operations and equipment currently located in sheds in Plymouth and Elkhart Lake along with the office building in the city of Sheboygan.

With the consolidation, the county would no longer have any use for any of those structures. Thus, part of the plan – and the financing for it – was to sell those vacant buildings once the new headquarters are completed and moved into.

The County Board last month completed that part of the picture, approving the sale of the Plymouth shed and the Sheboygan office building. The sale of the Elkhart Lake shed, to Sargento for $515,000, had already been approved a year earlier, to be completed when the new building is open and in use.

The sales approved last month were the Plymouth shed to SJT Rentals Inc. for $605,000 and the Sheboygan office building to 2017 Acquisition Group LLC for $1.4 million.

That makes a total of $2.52 million that the county will realize from the sale of the three soon-to-be-vacant buildings.

It has to be reassuring for county officials to know that all three sales are done even before the new headquarters building is completed. They could have sat vacant for years, waiting for interested buyers, for who knows how long, while the county had to spend money maintaining them and searching for a buyer.

Instead, thanks to the diligent and tireless efforts of county officials, the sheds and office building will transition smoothly to new uses, while the county will have the $2.52 million to apply toward the cost of the new complex – roughly 10 percent of the total cost of the project.

Perhaps more importantly, there will be

$2.52 million – and potentially more – added to the county’s property tax rolls with new private owners of the formerly public buildings.

That will mean additional property tax revenues for the county and the local municipalities and school districts where the former highway facilities are located. That’s an added bonus on top of the operational efficiencies and cost savings that the new highway headquarters will mean for the county and its taxpayers.

That new facility – which should be completed and in use by the end of the year – carried a large price tag, something that initially was unsettling to many observers.

But county officials, led by Transportation Director Greg Schnell, did their due diligence in planning the construction and financing of the project, and that is sure to pay off for all in the long run.

In the public as well as in the private sector, it often takes a large initial investment to realize long-term savings and return that will prove worthwhile over the long run. Well planned and well executed, such an investment often proves highly beneficial.

Last month’s property sales just add to the truth of that for the new county highway complex.

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