Selling off city assets difficult, but worth effort
In the ever-evolving quest to increase the city of Williamsport’s meager general fund reserve, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana is looking to sell off some of the city’s assets.
The former Almond Street fire station and Reighard Avenue civil defense building are being appraised for possible sale.
The city also is trying to obtain ownership of two pump stations belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers. Those stations would in turn be offered to the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority for $1 million for both.
Success in these gambits would substantially improve the city’s budget outlook, fortifying a reserve fund that stands at a meager – and risky – $101,000.
So, will it work?
Well, that’s hard to say.
Public buildings do not always attract a large buyers market for obvious reasons. They were built for one specific reason – some form of public usage. So the buyer has to see the potential for reuse and handle the costs of making that happen while still looking at numbers that make the purpose practical.
It’s a big stretch.
But it’s possible.
Over the years, we have seen a former city fire station turned into a dentist’s office. We have seen a former City Hall toward into offices and high-end lodging.
The formula can work.
And given the stagnation of the city’s tax base and lack of new sources of revenue, the attempt by the mayor is well worth the effort.