Hattiesburg leaders question repair bills on church building

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg will be spending $192,000 for repairs and renovations to the old First Baptist Church building in downtown Hattiesburg, but some city council members question the spending, especially if the city is going to sell the building.

The budget amendment had to be made to go ahead with things such as asbestos abatement, air conditioning repairs, minor roof repairs and an upgraded fire system. Councilwoman Deborah Delgado questioned why the city would spend so much money if there were buyers looking to purchase the building.

Mayor Johnny DuPree said there are two potential buyers, one wanting to keep the church as a church and another wanting to make it into a school, but no deal been made.

The city plans on moving certain departments into the building and DuPree says renovations have to be done before any moves can be made.

"The building is ours and I think that we have to continue to move forward with the building being ours," said DuPree.

"It would seem to me that in the kind of economic times that we're experiencing that we may not choose to do it [repairs] until we have a determination from the two that have expressed an interest that they're not interested or that they're not able to make the purchase," said Delgado.

The city bought the church and the property for about $3 million when First Baptist moved its location to Lincoln Road.

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