Friday, April 08, 2022

Standard Times Building Earnest Money was $47,500, not $60,000

City Council approved a budget amendment related to last year's purchase of the former Standard Times building.  Staff asked Council to approve $135,000 for architectural services but added $60,000 in earnest money, $28,003 for taxes and $15,000 for utilities.  The latter expenditures struck me as odd in that most of them had already been incurred and paid for by the city.  

Earnest money would have been put up at the time the purchase price was struck and netted out in closing.  The Tom Green County Appraisal District showed a $28,002.93 payment from the City of San Angelo for the property on 1-27-22, over two months ago.  

The city incurred utility bills since it closed on 8-19-21.  Council chose not to explore this agenda item and approved it 7-0.

A public information request produced documents on the earnest money, which was $47,500, not the $60,000 requested by staff and approved by Council.  Staff suggested their aim was to simplify the presentation by combining the earnest money and building assessment costs.

Engineering firm Freese and Nichols conducted the assessment of the Standard Times building and invoiced the city $28,167 on 7-31-21.  Adding those items together equals $75,667.


City documents show two items netted out of the building price at closing, the $47,500 in earnest money and $23,442.73 for County taxes.  Staff did not mention this when it asked Council for $28,003 for the exact same expense item.  

The documentation as to who approved the payment for the building had been redacted from the information provided.  Council's background packet showed the following staff approvals:

Charles Michalewicz   Created/Initiated
Patrick Frerich             Approved
Shane Kelton               Approved
Theresa James             Approved
Jeffrey Tomlinson       Approved
Tina Dierschke           Approved
Julia Antilley              Final Approval
A copy of the check is below.

All four check signers were present when Council approved staff's "labeled for simplicity" request.  Earnest money is clearly different than building assessment money which is not the same as taxes.  Obfuscation, laziness or some combination of the two?

Update 5-23-23:  The city budgeted $14.3 million to upgrade the Standard Times building for Public Works and other departments.  Staff will move from the former First Financial Bank building (City Hall Annex) into the Standard Times space.  At that point the cost to upgrade the former bank building for a police station will be identified.

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