After more than a year of searching for a new Bluffton headquarters, Beaufort County has decided to stay in an office building on Bluffton Parkway.
Instead of signing a five-year lease to continue occupying those offices, though, the county plans to buy the building to save money in the future.
A resolution introduced Monday by county administrator Gary Kubic to buy the 22,244-square-foot building for $3.6 million was approved unanimously by the County Council. The purchase would also include 6.1 acres of open land.
The property, owned by Myrtle Plantation Partnership LLC, was appraised at $4.1 million last year, Kubic said, but the county negotiated the lower price.
"It allows us to retain a very well-built facility and gives us the opportunity to expand in the future," Kubic said.
If the county finances the purchase by issuing bonds, it will begin paying for itself in eight years, said the county's chief financial officer, David Starkey.
"Your interest would be less than what your rental would be in that process," Starkey said.
If it continued the lease, the county would have expected, rent, taxes and maintenance to cost of about $322,681 a year and projected rent to continue to rise annually.
The county started to search for a cheaper option about a year and a half ago. After soliciting bids and estimating what constructing a new building would cost, the county determined the current location was the best fit in terms of space, convenience and location.
The purchase will likely be completed in 10 weeks; it requires a public hearing and subsequent votes by County Council.