County buys downtown building

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
The Escambia County Commission closed Friday, Aug. 27, on the purchase of the Caffey Presto building in downtown Brewton. The Commission purchased the building for $400,000 from Robert Presto after the property was appraised for $410,000, according to county administrator Tony Sanks.
Presto will occupy the building until Sept. 17, and then the county will begin running telephone lines and computer hookups in preparation for the County Commission to be housed there in early October.
The building's three current tenants -- Spike Maxwell with State Farm Insurance, Mutual Savings Life Insurance Company and Brent Althauser with Raymond James Financial Services -- will remain in the building under its new ownership.
The county purchased the building using state capital improvement funds that are restricted in use to the following areas: the purchase and operation of a sanitary landfill, operation of public utilities, roads and bridges (up to 50 percent of the total funding), public health, county human resources or other public buildings including a courthouse or courthouse annex. Because the county does not operate public utilities, there is no need for a landfill and the County Health Department and Department of Human Resources buildings are relativeley new, the only options for these funds are road and bridge improvements and other county buildings.
According to Sanks, when that money is allocated by the state every year, 50 percent automatically goes towards road and bridge improvement, so the remainder could not be used on those projects.
In payment for the building, the county assumed a mortgage to Hugh Caffey in the amount of $265,874.09. The remainder of the cost was paid in cash to Presto, and the mortgage will be paid from the same capital improvement fund each year.
Sanks said that along with the commission moving to the new building, three or four offices within the courthouse will shift, including the circuit clerk's sivill office, child support unit, reappraisal department, drug court and community corrections.