Planning Ahead: Supervisors review options if city leaves Courthouse

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Outgoing Lincoln County Board of Supervisor Eddie Brown placed an item discussing how to plan ahead on the agenda during a regularly scheduled meeting Monday. He said the city was thinking about a potential move out of the Lincoln County Courthouse and wanted to explore what options they have if it happens. 

Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox and the Board of Aldermen met in May to discuss the appraisal of two properties in Brookhaven to potentially move City offices to. One is the old Hartman-Harrigill Funeral Home across from the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce located at 101 Chickasaw Street. Another is the old Kees Motor Company at 130 East Cherokee Street.  

Brown brought the matter to the board to discuss what the potential fall out would be. He wanted the public to know if it happened what would be a result. 

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“The City wants to move out of the courthouse again. It has come up multiple times in the past,” Brown said. “We are all changing hands with new supervisors this year. It has been brought up several times by the mayor. They want to move but as far as I know, they don’t have the votes. The deal is when they notify us we have four years to pay them for their part of the building.”

Lincoln County Board Attorney Greg Malta said there is nothing the board can do to prevent the city from leaving according to an interlocal contract signed in 1980. Lincoln County would have to buy out the rest of the building if the city leaves with two options for payment. 

First, the county could pay 20 percent of the value of the building as appraised by an appraiser appointed by the city, the county and both parties. Lincoln County could pay back the investment Brookhaven made on the building plus interest. Brookhaven’s initial investment was $234,185 which had an interest rate of 6 percent over the last 43 years. 

Lincoln County would have time to plan for the repayment and can go with the lesser of the two costs. The contract stipulates the county has four years to pay the city if Brookhaven moves out. 

“I wanted to bring it to attention. This would throw a tax burden for the county and the city most likely,” Brown said. “The tax burden most likely would fall on the city voters too if they want new offices they are going to need to buy buildings. The tax increase would be forced on the city voters too. I want the public to know what we are facing here. I don’t see it happening in my time. People will have to deal with it if it does happen.”