Jackson County Commission Chairman Tim Guffey said he was surprised when he heard Jackson County DHR was moving to Brownwood Elementary School.
Guffey said a 25% reduction in rent to $3 per square foot was offered by the commission to DHR. Guffey said for the first 15 years of DHR’s contract, they paid $114,420 in rent per year.
Over 15 years, that equals $1,716,300 and $6.13 per square foot. Over the last 10 years, Guffey said DHR paid $18,660 per year, or $1 per square foot. The average annual payment is $76,116, or $4.08 per square foot.
DHR’s current lease agreement with the county began in August 1992, before the building was opened in 1993. The county owns the building where DHR is housed because DHR is not allowed to own any buildings. However, DHR paid for the building through a bond agreement with the county.
From August 1992 to August 2008, DHR paid the county $9,538 per month for the county to make the bond payments. That amounts to $114,456 per year. After those 16 years were up, the county and DHR entered into two five-year leases of $1 per square foot. That comes out to $18,662 a year that DHR pays the county.
DHR takes care of maintenance, utilities, repairs, cleaning, lawn care, and everything in between at its current building.
The DHR lease agreement has been a topic of contention between DHR and the commission over the past year. Guffey said he was perplexed by the move.
“We offered them a 25% reduction in rent, and now they’re going to a place where they have to spend a lot of money to remodel,” said Guffey.
Guffey said he did not understand why DHR moved to only have a five-year lease agreement. He said he spoke with Scottsboro City School System Superintendent Dr. Jay Reyes, and Reyes said the school system would need the option to reopen Brownwood if the schools see growth.
“There’s nothing to say that if the population grows here in Scottsboro, DHR may be out on the street,” said Guffey.
He also felt like the state did the county wrong because they knew about the move several months ago and did not tell the commission. Guffey said if they had told the county, the commission could have saved time and money by focusing on other projects.
He did say he was happy that DHR found somewhere to go and that it does do good work in the county.
Guffey said the commission would decide what to do with the DHR building when the building becomes vacant in October.