Oakland County has approved the sale of the West Oakland Office Building (WOOB) at 1010 East West Maple Road in Walled Lake to McDonald's Corporation for $675,000 after a Board of Commissioners vote today along party lines.
The sale of the office building will save Oakland County taxpayers $135,000 a year in maintenance and utility costs and $500,000 in capital improvements will be avoided. In addition, the WOOB will be in private hands and therefore back on the tax rolls providing much-needed tax revenue to the City of Walled Lake and other jurisdictions.
"We are experiencing the toughest economy in our lifetime which has adversely impacted our revenue stream for the operations of government," said Art Holdsworth, Oakland County's director of facilities management. "To stabilize our budget, we as a county have been looking at everything and anything to efficiently stabilize our costs, including downsizing our footprint"
The WOOB primarily houses Oakland County Health and Human Services operations, which will be minimally impacted by the sale.
The Health Division office in WOOB provides Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services; vaccinations and testing for sexually transmitted diseases for uninsured residents; and well, septic field and restaurant inspection services.
Under President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, much of the Medicaid population served by the Health Division at WOOB will be redirected to receive clinic services from their Health Maintenance Organization medical home, reducing the demand for those services from the Health Division.
Oakland County's Facilities Management Department and Health Division are in talks right now with Walled Lake Schools to lease space two blocks away from WOOB to continue to provide WIC services in western Oakland County. Renting office space for WIC services will cost substantially less than the maintenance and utility costs for WOOB.
As for the health sanitarians that inspect wells, septic fields and restaurants, they will remain in the field in western Oakland County using the Health Division's and Information Technology Department's collaborative eHealth software which has won national recognition. The Health Division plans to continue to perform seasonal flu vaccination clinics in western Oakland County on an outreach basis.
"With technology and data at our fingertips, the Health Division is prepared to serve all county residents," said George Miller, director of Oakland County Health and Human Services.
The process for the sale of the WOOB to McDonald's Corporation began a year ago May 25, 2010 when it first came before the Planning & Building Committee. Per the Board of Commissioners' rules, the committee met in closed session then voted publicly on a bi-partisan basis in favor of the sale, with unanimous support from the three Democrat commissioners on the committee.
The sale of the WOOB also had several hearings -- four this year alone -- before Board of Commissioners committees prior to the full vote of all 25 commissioners today.
"We wanted to ensure the process for the sale was completely transparent," said Laurie Van Pelt, Oakland County's director of management and budget. "We made sure all our i's were dotted and t's crossed when it came to following Board of Commissioners' procedures so the public would have ample time and opportunity to give the county feedback on the sale."
That process included obtaining two professional appraisals of the property which ranged from $500,000 to $760,000. McDonald's Corporation approached Oakland County through Agree Realty a little more than a year ago expressing an interest to purchase the property for $600,000. Oakland County negotiated the sale price up to $675,000, toward the higher end of the two appraisals.
"It is worth noting that with the current state of the real estate market, the sales market for office buildings has been relatively stagnant through 2010 and the first part of 2011. It is our analysis that the sale of this property is a sound business decision," said Holdsworth.
The current plan is for Oakland County to vacate the WOOB during the month of September, 2011.