Putnam County Commissioners voted Monday night to put the county’s new School bus Garage and County Transportation Facility on hold.
Bids came in almost three times higher than expected. Only two bidders brought proposals to the county with the low bid at $15.7 million. Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said the project budget stood at around $5 million.
“I think building costs have gone up so much, there’s got to be a peak at some point and there’s got to be some correction,” Porter said. “I don’t think we’re too far from that on commercial. Now residential homes, they’re still going good.”
Porter said the bid put the price of a basic metal building at around $300 per square foot. Porter said the county does not have the extra money to throw at the project.
Porter said they could revisit the construction next year.
The facility would replace the old school bus garage, located off Jefferson Avenue. The county decided several years ago to sell that property due to the age of the facility and the value of the land for commercial development. During discussions, it was decided putting the county maintenance facility with the school bus garage on Tennessee Avenue made sense.
“With all of ya’ll that are on the committee, we had simplified it down about as simple as you could get it,” Porter said. “If we’re going to cut the project any more, it’s probably not worth doing.”
Speaking of the bus garage property, County Commissioners approved the sale of .34 of an acre on East Veterans Drive at the side of the Putnam County School Bus Garage.
Porter said he was approached by a developer wanting to buy a piece of the old Stockyard property. The developer found during the exploration process that this small piece of land on the edge of the property belonged to the county. The appraisal price for the 14,810 square feet came in at $260,000.
“I think it’s a win-win for the county,” Porter said. “Number one, it squares up the property, it gets us $260,000, and then it allows us for that to be a new business that would go into that piece of property that would bring in sales tax in the future and probably new jobs.”
Porter said the sale of the property will not affect the county highway department or the bus garage. Porter said the developer that approached him had businesses interested in the property, but there were worries about that lack of road frontage. The appraisal puts the property at around $17 per square foot.
The county would sell the property through a bidding process. The starting bid would be the appraisal price and interested parties would confidentially bid until a final buying price is reached. Porter will bring the winning bid to the committee for a decision on whether to sell the property.
Porter said he hopes to advertise the sale next week and bring back a sales price to commissioners in December.