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Troy City Council to split cost of annex appraisal with ambulance group

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | December 1, 2020 7:00 AM

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Troy Volunteer Ambulance is seek to lease or purchase a municipal lot on Third Street. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

Troy City Councilors have come one step closer to solidifying their plans to sell or lease municipal property to Troy Volunteer Ambulance.

During a Nov. 12 meeting, City Clerk Tracy Rebo told councilors that the city could enter into a contract with the volunteer group without first putting the property out to bid. Previously, councilors had wondered if they were legally obligated to allow other potential buyers to make offers for the 303 N. Third St. property before making a deal.

After speaking with City Attorney Clif Hayden, Rebo said the council had to get a quote for the property and pass a resolution stating their intent to sell the lot.

Once they completed these steps, councilors could sign off on a contract with the ambulance group.

To come up with a price tag for the property, councilors weighed splitting the cost of an appraisal with the volunteer organization. Rebo said an appraisal would cost about $3,500.

During a subsequent Nov. 18 meeting, councilors unanimously approved the plan to cost-share with the ambulance service. Crystal Denton, council president, wondered if the city would get stuck paying for the entirety of the appraisal if the ambulance service decided they didn’t want to go forward with the contract.

Mayor Dallas Carr said he was uncertain of what would happen in that scenario. Councilors doubted, however, that group leadership would ask the city to cover the appraisal on their own if they opted against buying the property.

The council began exploring the option of selling or leasing the Third Street property to Troy Volunteer Ambulance after representatives from the group told councilors they were seeking a more spacious facility.

Speaking at an Aug. 19 council meeting, Pam Tallmadge, organization vice president, said the volunteer corps was quickly running out of space at their nearby ambulance barn. In their search for a new building, leaders of the group zeroed in on the city-owned property.

According to Tallmadge, the group would convert the structures on the site into an office building, an instruction facility, a garage and an equipment storage space. Three ambulances could be parked in the planned garage and the group may have an additional spot paved outside for the fourth ambulance they aim to acquire.

“We are a nonprofit, … we do a lot for this community,” said Tallmadge. “We would love to be able to expand and be able to do more.”

During the Aug. 19 meeting, Carr presented a rough estimate of the property’s value submitted by Lynn Ward, an agent with Northwest Montana Real Estate.

According to Ward’s report, the 0.359-acre property and the four buildings it houses are worth between $180,000 and $200,000. Ward stressed, though, she was only offering her opinion as a realtor. The figures do not represent a formal appraisal of the property.

During a Sept. 6 meeting, Carr told councilors that Tallmadge had deemed the rough estimate too high. Councilor TJ Boswell suggested that the city could rent the property to the organization on a long-term lease if the lot remained out of the group’s price after the appraisal. Under this form of agreement, Boswell said the city wouldn’t have to pay for repairs or maintenance on the property.

Carr said he would be willing to offer the lot to the volunteer group for a lower price. He noted though, that the city is bound by law to sell the property for a fair market value.