By John Mott Coffey, with News Mississippi affiliate WQNZ
NATCHEZ, Miss.–Adams County supervisors are balking at a proposal to rent for $72,000 a year a downtown office building for Sheriff Chuck Mayfield along with his administrators and investigators.
“To me, renting is a waste of money,” said Supervisor Mike Lazarus. He noted the county could probably get a loan and repay about that same amount annually over a period of a few years to buy a building rather than renting.
Mayfield is asking the county Board of Supervisors to rent part of Callon Petroleum Co.’s former headquarters on Franklin and Wall streets to house about 20 Adams County Sheriff’s Office employees. He wants to consolidate administrators, investigators and narcotics officers now scattered at the Adams County Jail and two other buildings.
With the 39-year-old ACSO building on State Street leaking and crumbling apart, Mayfield is trying to relocate his offices until county supervisors decide whether to repair it or build a new facility.
The board delayed a decision Monday on whether to rent the old Callon building as it tries to negotiate a lower rental rate while also looking at other buildings to use. The board has also gotten architect Johnny Waycaster to prepare recommendations on how the existing ACSO building could be fixed and upgraded. He’ll meet with supervisors next week
“If you’re going to fix that building, you’re going to spend millions,” said Mayfield, who noted more cracks are appearing on the brick structure that has water leaks and mold infestations.
A builder estimated in June it would cost about $7 million to build a new jail.
Mayfield said he thought the monthly rent for the Callon building’s second floor was $4,000, but board attorney Scott Slover said the latest offer is actually $6,000 a month. Supervisors’ reluctance to rent the Callon building comes a week after they had agreed to move forward on getting a lease agreement drawn up for their approval.
ACSO investigators’ offices are in the Adams County Justice Court building by the county Courthouse. Metro Narcotics agents work in offices on Liberty Road near Monmouth.
The Callon building’s first floor currently houses offices for lawyers, real-estate agents and The APEX Center, a business-development program co-sponsored by Alcorn State University.