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A turkey named Telemecanique: Carroll County: Commissioners refuse to listen to the message of the marketplace.


CARROLL COUNTY Commissioner Donald I. Dell's statement that the county's planned purchase of the former Telemecanique plant is "too good a deal to turn down" raises a simple question: If this used industrial building is such a great buy, why hasn't the owner been flooded with offers?

The market is sending the commissioners a message they refuse to hear. The building and its 25 acres of land have not attracted buyers interested in it as an industrial site. Neither has the property wowed speculators who might be willing to buy it, sit on it and sell it later for a profit. Since this building has generated so little interest, we can conclude the market has decided there is something wrong with it or with the price the owner is asking.

Then why do the Carroll County commissioners persist in the mistaken notion that they have recognized some hidden value that the rest of the market has been unable to detect? They want to purchase the site as headquarters for the Board of Education -- although it is too isolated for that use even if the price were right.

The reality is that this former industrial plant is not an attractive buy. Members of the county's State House delegation have reached that conclusion and have communicated their opposition to including the purchase in a bond authorization to be submitted during the next legislative session.

Two key members of the delegation have not wavered from that stance. Del. Richard N. Dixon, a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee, is still against the purchase. Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Realtor, has questioned the county's willingness to pay the $4.2 million asking price. He has requested a copy of the appraisal the county used to determine the amount it paid.

If the commissioners are determined to purchase the Telemecanique building, they could buy it without issuing bonds, and thus would not need state approval. The delegation would then be in no position to stop them, and has said it would be reluctant to interfere in that instance. However, given Carroll's tight budget situation, the point must be emphasized to residents that other valuable county programs would have to be sacrificed if the commissioners tapped general revenue funds to carry out this mistaken purchase.

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