How many dead Chamber of Commerce Buildings in Mismanager Shipleyís back yard?

Expect secrecy in Halford-Cookeville negotiations


Special to The Putnam Pit

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (January 3, 2004) -- The city recently aborted an attempt to put City Mismanager Jim Shipley in charge of the negotiations for the rental of the new Chamber of Commerce Building.  Perhaps they are waiting for the new Chief Executive Officer to come in before getting down to real negotiations. 


The new CEO, George Halford, is a Certified Economic Developer. That means that he paid for a degree given only to the anointed few who have "experience" in Economic Development.  Normal citizens, who have to pay for Economic Development fiascoes, would not be allowed to even apply for the credentials. 


He is from Clarksville, Tennessee.  It will probably take a while to adjust to the expectations of the local regime.  After all, Clarksville only has a budget that is 22% of the Cookeville Budget.  While he was in Clarksville, there was a little controversy over the use of Industrial Development Board money to buy Country Club Memberships.  An attempt to stop the practice failed by a tie vote of the Clarksville City Council.


Mr. Halford has already been recruited to join the city drive to get SR451 or various versions of the plan going again at TDOT.  The local radio station, WHUB, tried to get him to endorse the project, but he only spoke in general terms of the importance of roads and also admitted that he was not fully acquainted with the details.   He takes office on 05 JAN 2004.


It seems only since 20 May 2000 that the Hair-oiled CitroŽn promised the public that there would be an economic impact of $600,000 per year if we would only build the $1.4 million dollar Chamber of Commerce Building.   The building cost more than that, but it seems no one really knows.  The usual and customary costs of the architect, land cost and completing the final punch list were "off the books."  The city recently put the final asphalt layer down around all of those drainage castings from India


 There were rumors that the cost overruns were caused by constant change orders that could only be approved by the past Chamber President, Eldon Leslie.  Maybe that is why mayor Womack recently demanded that the city contribution to the Chamber of Commerce be held back instead of the lame excuse given by the local propaganda rag. 


Hair-oiled CitroŽn let people believe that the $600,000 was going to be income that offset the cost of the building.  Only about $18,375 would land in the city and county coffers however as a result of sales taxes on that amount. This is like loaning someone $1.4 million for 144 years at 1 percent interest.  To add to the insult and injury, the city is now obligated to throw in another $30,000 a year to keep it running.


Only the Hair-oiled CitroŽn could report so positively on a situation where $18,375, 25% belonging to the county, is used to offset a payment of $30,000.


 What should the rental on a $1.4 million dollar building be?  If it were a home, the initial cost of the building would be paid over a reasonable life expectancy of the building. Using 40 years and the municipal bond rate of 4.84 percent, the annual payment should be around $79,809.67 per year.  That means that the Chamber of Commerce will have to get $9.17 per square foot of meeting room every year.  Lights, heat, chairs, tables and cleaning services are extra. The smallest room would have to be rented for $263.62 once a week, but why would anyone do that when they can go to the Holiday Inn and get a similar size room for $250?  


Cookeville should wish Mr. Halford well in his new job.  His negotiations with Mismanager Shipley should be interesting.  If the past predicts the future, the negotiations will be in secret and only the sanitized version as interpreted by the Hair-oiled CitroŽn will ever be exposed to the public.



The financial calculator for this discussion was found at:


What it takes to be a Certified Economic Developer:


Industrial Development Board pays Country Club Dues- Clarksville