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Gates Co. Commissioners approve demolition bids

GATESVILLE – Following the decision last month to pursue demolition bids for a few dilapidated houses in Gates County, the Board of Commissioners voted here at their regular meeting on Wednesday, May 1 to accept the lowest bids received.

There were three properties considered—one each in Gates, Sunbury, and Hobbsville. The fourth property under consideration was cleaned up by the owner, so the commissioners did not have to consider bids on that one.

“I talked to the homeowner,” explained Commissioner Jonathan Jones about the fourth property. “I didn’t want to waste any of the county’s money, and two weeks after our last meeting that property was cleaned up like he gave me his word. I really appreciate him doing that.”

County Manager Natalie Rountree reported the lowest bids for the other properties in question. The lowest bid for the Gates property was submitted by Rountree Engineering for $4,500. Pratt’s Construction submitted the lowest bids for the other two properties, with $7,950 for the Sunbury property and $9,050 for the one in Hobbsville.

It was noted that the cleanup bid for the Hobbsville house was higher than the others due to the presence of asbestos.

During the discussion about the bids, Jones asked about the notification letters which had been sent to the property owners. He wanted to know if they had been notified about the county’s intention to pursue action, and how long it had been since they had last been notified.

Rountree as well as County Building Inspector Edgar Mitchell explained in detail the information provided in the letters to the property owners.

“It basically says that if you don’t do it within 60 days, the county will do it,” Mitchell explained about the demolition and cleanup.

Rountree noted it had been more than a year since the property owners had received their final notice, well exceeding the 60 days given.

Jones also asked about the county’s source of funding that would be used for the work.

“All funds will come from Fund Eleven. There’s nothing coming from Fund Balance,” Rountree answered. “Fund Eleven is your general operating fund, so these are funds that have not been used from various departments to date, and typically they’re all below 50 percent already at this time of year.”

Commissioner Ray Freeman motioned to accept the recommended bids, and Commissioner Jack Owens seconded. But the discussion continued before they voted on the motion.

“Certainly I think properties need to be cleaned up because they are hazards,” said Board Chair Linda Hofler.

Rountree stated the contractors will have 15 days to complete the work, and they will have to turn in receipts for the work to be reimbursed.

Owens and Jones both asked about the cost of sending out bids again.

Rountree explained they would only have to pay to re-advertise the bids, but “you run the risk of either receiving higher bids the second time or fewer bids, if any.”

Jones replied that there was also a chance that bids could go down as well.

When the vote was called, however, Jones remained the lone dissenter. The vote passed 3-1 in favor of accepting the lowest demolition bids. Commissioner Henry Jordan was unable to attend the meeting.

The commissioners also voted to approve budget amendments which would allow them to proceed with the demolition of the dilapidated properties. Jones again was the one vote of opposition.