by: JonChristopher Collins
During Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, Aldermen voted on a resolution to sell property that was previously purchased by Branson; the resolution was voted down and will be presented again.
The property in question includes three bronze U.S. Veteran statues; these statues were bought by Branson for $1 million. The “Storming the Beach” statue, “Stay Low” statue and “Vietnam Trio” statue were purchased in 2015. Branson’s Finance Director Jamie Rouch said that when the statues were bought, there was not enough money to buy them outright.
“Five years ago, we did an internal loan fund. So, we did not have the money in the general fund to pay for these statues outright. We went ahead and did a loan from the tourism fund to the general fund,” Rouch said. There is $512,000 left on the loan with five years left to pay it. It is at a 1% interest.
The purchase price was $1 million even. It was paid for and then money was borrowed against the tourism tax. “Wow,” Alderman Clay Cooper said. Cooper asked why this happened and how much they can be sold for. The last time bids were sought for selling the statues, the highest bid was $15,000.
Mayor Larry Milton said the vote was to give approval to authorize administration to seek a sale. “We don’t know what the dollar amounts are going to be. I’m asking for the Aldermen just to say to the staff yes we’re interested and bring us what you got,” he said.
City Administrator Stan Dobbins said the City would have a bottom dollar price and hold a right to first refusal. City Attorney Chris Lebeck explained what the resolution being voted on would do. “What this resolution basically does is you’re authorizing the City or giving them permission to use our competitive bidding to seek the best and most appropriate price for these and sell them,” Lebeck said. Lebeck brought up another option to vote the as written resolution down and have it be presented again which Aldermen elected to do.