The city of Midway is looking for a new temporary home for its government, but the city council has rejected all the options proposed except one: Midway Mall.
Midway has enjoyed rent-free use of the former Liberty Elementary School now owned by Liberty County but will have to move out this year so the county can begin asbestos removal and renovations. Liberty County is planning multiple uses for the old school campus.
Council members considered mobile homes, portable offices and buildings before ruling out the alternatives and voting to continue considering the Midway Mall site.
With Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington voting to break a tie, the mall option was passed 3-2.
The Midway Mall suites D-4 and D-6 contain 1,726 square feet and could be rented for $1,000 monthly, according to documents.
Midway uses about 900 square feet in its current county-owned building, in addition to the large room that was the cafeteria when the structure was a school. Midway uses the cafeteria for meetings and rents it for parties and similar gatherings.
No rentals are being accepted for December in expectation that renovation work will be under way.
Officials said council meetings likely will be held in the courtroom of the Midway Police Department while the government offices are in temporary housing.
The MPD building formerly was used to house Midway City Hall, and the courtroom was used for council meetings.
Money was an important consideration in choosing a temporary city hall site.
“The city as a whole is doing good financially,” Midway Finance Director Gwen Lowe told the council, adding that Midway has no property-tax income.
She said it was time for city department heads to begin preparing their budget requests.
“They will have to dig deep to keep spending low,” Lowe said.
The council acted to accept Hickory Hills Subdivision after Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Engineer Ebrahim Hadji said it had been inspected and recommended acceptance.
This was another tie vote with council members Terry Doyle and Melice Gerace in favor and Levern Clancy and Curtes Roberts opposed. Washington broke the tie with a “yes” vote.
There was a brief discussion of funds that will be available to Midway if the Transportation Investment Act referendum passes in the coastal area. Local governments would get 25 percent of the income from an additional 1 percent sales tax with the share based on the 80 percent of the centerline mileage of the roads and streets in the jurisdiction.
Midway plans to protest the figures, which say it has 8 miles of streets and roads.
“We sure know we have more than that!” Washington exclaimed.
Doyle said he hoped “there’s no way Liberty County can bamboozle it.”