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Hillsboro in quandary about Panda Kitchen building

Staff writer

A downtown Hillsboro building that houses a Chinese restaurant has deteriorated enough the city may hire a contractor to make repairs, but council members want mortgage holder Emprise Bank to step up.

The building owner, Panda Properties Management, did not appear for an Aug. 2 municipal court hearing on the condition of the building.

Panda Properties Management is controlled by George Yang.

“We’ve had a lot of trouble getting hold of Mr. Yang,” city administrator Matt Stiles said. “Word on the street is he might have gone back to China. We were unable to serve him, so the judge allowed us to notify him by publication.”

The building needs roof repair and masonry work. Cost is estimated at more than $25,000.

“The court has given the directive that the city can repair the building,” Stiles said. “It is frustrating that the owner has not responded at all or shown willingness to sell the property to someone willing to repair it.”

The building is an anchor downtown, Stiles said, and its proximity to other buildings creates an obligation to repair it.

He doesn’t expect the cost to be recovered immediately, and the city eventually may end up owning the building.

“It’s a historic building. It’s a community asset,” mayor Lou Thurston said.

Emprise Bank is the first lien holder on the property.

“If we step in, I guess we become the first lien holder,” Thurston said.

City attorney Andrew Kovar recommended contacting Emprise Bank. If the bank forecloses the mortgage, the city could end up in the middle of the foreclosure, Kovar said.

Thurston said the worst thing that could happen would be to expend taxpayer money.

He asked Kovar to contact the bank to see whether it would become involved with repairing to the building.

Council members took no action Tuesday.

In other business, although the city didn’t get poor marks in its annual audit, it did get some adverse marks.

Danielle Hollingshead of Adams Brown reviewed the city’s annual audit report.

She went through the report page by page.

“Two violations were that the general fund exceeded budget authority, and the city is required to publish a quarterly budget within 30 days of the quarter ending, and you have a couple of quarters where that didn’t happen,” Hollingshead told council members.

She recommended the city do a quarterly reconciliation of payroll and that the land bank have its own bank account.

Auditors made a couple of recommendations.

“There was one encumbrance that was not recorded properly at year-end for $20,000,” she said. “There also were two accounts payable in the amount of $116,683 that were not recorded in the correct year.”

Council members voted 4-0, with councilman Brent Driggers abstaining, to set a protocol for testing levels of organic materials in wastewater and impose on sewer customers an extra charge to process wastewater with excessive amounts.

Council member Blake Beye asked when testing and charges would go into effect.

Stiles answered that it probably would take no less than 60 days.

The city will charge an extra 24 cents per pound for excessive organic materials in wastewater because excessive organic materials require more treatment.

During administrator’s comments, Stiles said the city was doing what it can to help with the county’s beleaguered emergency medical service. The department lost several emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and is operating with skeleton crews. Fire chief Ben Steketee, an EMT, has assisted with several EMS calls.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2022

 

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