The hits just keep on coming.
During last week’s regular meeting for the month of March, Mexico Beach city administrator Chris Hubbard told the city council that the current city hall, an old bank building off of U.S. Highway 98 is in danger of being sold.
People’s South, a bank franchise based out of Georgia, will be opening three branches in Bay County, two of which will be located in the Panama City area and the third is targeted for Mexico Beach.
A building inspector visited current city hall to ensure it was in good working order and Hubbard said that there was nothing wrong with the building that might cause delays if someone wanted to purchase the building and move in.
The bank has 90 days to notify the council if they intend to purchase it.
“We may be looking for a new home soon,” Hubbard told the council.
It’s already been a game of musical chairs for various departments around the city.
Public Works was recently moved into a new maintenance building which gave the department more space and the police department is in process of relocating to a modular unit, allowing it to escape the black mold that was identified three years earlier.
“We could attempt to operate city hall out of the new modular, side-by-side with the police department, but it would be very cramped,” said Hubbard. “The police department deals in issues of a criminal nature that non-police officers are prohibited from seeing.”
Hubbard said that there are two vacant buildings in Mexico Beach that could be potential options, but one on 40th Street would raise rent costs significantly while the other on U.S. Highway 98 is smaller than the current city hall.
“The city has limited options,” said Hubbard. “Moving into the Civic Center is one, but then we would have to figure out where we would hold our council meetings.”
The size of the current city hall has been a regular point of conversation and the city has had plans to build a new city hall for several years, first utilizing the historic Parker House.
The house burned and was considered a loss, and while plans exist for a 3,200 square foot structure to be built elsewhere on the property, the battle with the insurance company over funds for the loss have only started to make headway after nearly three years of back and forth.
The city has received $660,000 for the damages and been offered an additional $174,000 as settlement, but rent and upkeep on the current city hall has already begun to chip away at the total.