Commissioner tours ‘solid’ Clay County annex amid talks of spending millions to replace it

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – Love it or list it? There’s no question the Clay County Annex needs some work. But do you work with what you have, or spend 100 times the repair cost to build something brand new?

FOX4 took a tour Wednesday afternoon to give viewers that chance to look and decide for themselves.

The Clay County Annex near N.E. Vivion Road and N.E. Antioch Road in Gladstone is where residents go to handle certain life necessities.

“Over 60-70% of the people that do business in person with the Assessment Department and Collection Department come here," Assessor Cathy Rinehart said.

Rinehart gave FOX4 and Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte a tour of the building, one she said has been neglected for more than two decades.

Pointing to the front door, she said, “When it rains, this is like walking through a shower. It leaks that badly.”

Employees there said the roof leaks, there are plumbing issues and broken tiles, and an entire section of wall where the electrical outlets don’t work.

The commission has had recent talks about tearing it down and building a new one for $20 million. Some said, though, the building is like a used car that needs some love -- not one that needs to go to the scrap yard.

“This building is reasonably solid," Nolte said. "If we put a fraction of that $20 million into this building, 10% into this building, it’d make a tremendous difference.”

The annex sits on more than 5 and a half acres of land that taxpayers have paid for, land that the county owns.

“The thing is, we’ve got a lot of land, and we’ve got a lot of options within this land,” Nolte said.

In 2017, the county paid a firm to appraise all the county buildings, including the annex.

“This is a two-year-old report, almost two years old," Nolte said, pointing to a large three-ring binder. "But as I said, we paid almost $300,000 for this report. We ought to be reading it and listening to it.”

The report found that $238,000 would be more than enough to  make much needed repairs.

Why are some of the commissioners wanting to spend 100 times that amount? Neither Commissioner Luann Ridgeway nor Commissioner Gene Owen responded to our emails inquiring about this matter.

“If we can’t even retain this, we don’t need another 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 square feet," Nolte said.

“I think if we went to public and said, ‘Do you want to spend $2 million on the annex or $20 million on a new annex building, it’s a no brainer," Rinehart said.

Nolte said he’d add the 2017 building report to the county’s next meeting agenda.

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