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City of Plano proceeds with purchase of vacant Hugh Street building

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A vacant building at 9 N. Hugh St., became one step closer Monday night to being turned over to the Plano Historical Society for its use.

City council members voted Monday night to proceed with the building purchase on a recommendation two weeks ago by the council at a Committee of the Whole meeting.

The issue first came up several weeks ago when Tom Karpas, Plano Building, Planning and Zoning director, met with Plano School Board members to see if they would be willing to forfeit taxes owed the school district back several years on the property.

School board members voted unanimously to participate.  

Mayor Bob Hausler told council members at the earlier meeting that he would like them to consider approving a proposed intergovernmental agreement that he is presenting to all taxing bodies who have not received their tax payments or penalties over the past several years from this property.

Now that the council approved the agreement, it will be presented to the other taxing bodies who also are owed taxes from the property. Hausler said he is hoping they will adopt the agreement to forfeit their taxes and penalties so the building could be made available to the historical society.

"If they do not participate, this could not be done," Hausler said.

He noted that the city's only cost would be about $4,000, the portion of the total tax bill that would come to the city.

He said the city would remain owner of the building, which sits on a 31-by-32-foot lot.

Hausler said he talked to the county, the second largest taxpayer on the list and they said they were waiting to see what the school district would do.

Karpas told school officials the city is asking that the taxing bodies rebate their share of the $40,000 owed in back taxes and penalties back to the city, so that in the end the money they would have received in taxes would be rebated.

He said he went to school district officials first because the second largest amount of taxes owed on this property would be to the school district. The largest amount owed would be to the county.

Karpas said the vacant building has been in a state of deterioration and disrepair for several years. He recalled that at one time a dentist office had been in the building.

The mayor said it's not likely anyone could afford to pay the taxes and then invest money in making the building usable for a new business.

Karpas said he also presented the proposal to Plano Library Board members about a month ago and they supported it.

"The renovation and rehabilitation work could be done by the museum officials. They do have a bit of money, but the majority of the work will be in the form of in-kind donations of either labor, materials or both," Karpas said.

He said the building needs interior work such as painting, repairing of drywall and similar cosmetic repairs of damage done by vandals. A new heating system also will be needed, he added.

The city would hold title to the building because it is buying back the taxes. It would then lease the property to the Historical Society for $1 a year.

The city would be responsible for some maintenance such as any future repairs to the roof, siding and similar items, Karpas said.