By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
After discussing the county’s latest audit, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) is inquiring about a $400,000 land sale with the City of Madison. About two years ago, the county agreed to sell a 14-acre parcel of land on Bass Road for the airport expansion project in the amount of $400,000. “It has been almost two years that they have promised us this,” said Commissioner Ellen Warren. “I really think we need to look into this.” The county had expected to have the money by now, noting the county was about $145,000 in the red for fund balance use in the fiscal year 2015, believing the city would have paid for the land already. “Revenue was below expectation,” said Michael Lamar, county manager. “But if we had gotten a $400,000 pay out from the land sale, like we were assuming, that wouldn’t have happened…We could make up the difference with the reserves from our fund balance and we did, but at the same time, there is a certain expectation of revenue…We understand that any land sale involving federal dollars will be difficult but now it’s transcending multiple fiscal years.” Chairman Donald Harris sent a letter to the City of Madison, requesting an update on the situation.
“On behalf of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, I am respectfully requesting an update on the much earlier agreed upon Bass Road land transaction. I certainly realize and understand any land sale involving federal monies is a convoluted undertaking but the fact that it’s fast approaching two years in finalizing this matter seems somewhat excessive by any reasonable measure,” wrote Harris. But according to the city, it’s up to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to award the city with the money to pay for the land sale. The airport expansion is being funded through a federal grand with the FAA, which takes time, said City Manager David Nunn. “This is not a debt,” said Nunn. “When the money becomes available, we will set a closing date on the land, and issue the money to the county right away.” “This is how it goes with federal money,” said Nunn. “It takes some time coming down to us and it just hasn’t happened yet. I wish it had happened already. But it’s definitely imminent and it’s closer than it has been.”