Hammond council OKs purchase of former bank

The City Council agreed Tuesday to buy and renovate the former Hancock Bank Building on Oak Street for use as the Police Department’s new headquarters.

Mayor Mayson Foster asked the council to approve necessary fiscal moves to ensure state funding would be available for the project.

The state awarded Hammond a $600,000 grant for acquisition of the building last year and the council has since approved a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and the state to buy the building.

Foster said that while meeting with state officials in Baton Rouge recently, he learned that the state was reluctant to spend the entire $600,000 on the purchase price and wanted the city to contribute a share of that cost.

To raise the city’s share of the building’s cost, which is $625,000, the council approved moving $200,000 from the police millage fund into the building’s purchase fund.

Renovations are expected to cost about $500,000 and the state grant will cover $277,500 of that cost while the city will contribute $222,500.

The final cost of the building’s purchase and renovation will be $1.165 million, Foster said.

Other matters coming before the council included:

SEWER SURVEY: The council awarded a $338,618 bid to Video Industrial Services Inc. to evaluate the sewer system. City Engineer Chuck Spangler said the evaluation will pinpoint where problems exist.

SALES TAX REVENUE: Foster said sales tax revenues for December were $1.833 million, the most amount raised in a single month in the city’s history. Sales tax revenues are about $500,000 over budget at this point in the fiscal year.

AIRPORT BUSY: The mayor reported that during Super Bowl weekend, Hammond’s Northshore Airport handled 126 aircraft.