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EDITORIAL: Another commercial property bites the dust

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Board of health just the latest example of public body scooping up land that should add to area’s tax base

By The Staff

It’s frightening, really, that the board of health apparently never even considered the tax-base ramifications of building its new $2.1 million health department next door to Wal-Mart.

That decision forever eliminates yet another piece of prime commercial real estate from the property tax rolls, a practice of public agencies here that is all too common and needs to stop.

It doesn’t take a medical professional or politician to understand that property near Wal-Mart (or Lowe’s and other big box stores) is commercially the most valuable a small city has to offer. Look around just one, please, and see what happens in neighboring counties.

Drive 10 miles north and see that Frankfort has done a good job managing the land near US 127 and I-64. As soon as you reach the city limits, both sides of 127 are stuffed with stores and restaurants of all makes and sizes.

Drive that distance south and see that Harrodsburg has done roughly the same.

In neither case have they scooped up acre after highway-frontage acre to construct public facilities.

Here, we’ve stricken acres of our community’s most valuable commercial property from the tax rolls by using large sections of US 127 Bypass to build a county park, elementary school and new school board office complex. Yes there is available property across from and in between those facilities, but when was the last time Target or some other large retailer plopped a new building beside a park or school?

One argument for placing the health building there is that several of the neighboring businesses are health-related. That’s true, but the community’s goal of having a health corridor of sorts would be much better served if actual tax-paying health providers occupied that space.

Frankly, they don’t need government competing with them for flu shots and other Medicaid or private insurance paid-for services.

The bottom line is that we’re getting sick and tired of hearing our public officials carp and whine about having no money when it seems that at every turn they do whatever they can to ensure that our tax base stays stagnant or even shrinks.

When they voted, several health board members asked aloud what future boards would think 30 years from now if they didn’t buy this land and erect such a large building.

We think, instead, that folks in the future will wonder why in the world anyone would plop a public building smack-dab in the middle of the county’s most prolific business district.