Archived Story

Supervisor explains initial hesitation

Published 10:25am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Editor’s note: The Isle of Wight County supervisors on Thursday voted unanimously to negotiate with a Newport News Realtor to sell eight of its properties. Supervisor Al Casteen hesitated pulling the health department from the package because it would mean changes to the county’s original bid request. He explains why.

by Al Casteen

I wanted to get on the record about just why I initially opposed dropping the health department building from the property list that was the basis of the request for proposal to which only one large real estate firm responded.

The county clearly needs to sell the many properties it put forward in the RFP. Attempts to sell them by the county failed rather flatly yet the county budget expects to sell at least half the properties at the assessed values to get the expected revenues this fiscal year.

I believe the county finances will work out even if no real estate is sold, but I also believe the county should make a responsible effort to sell as many of the excess properties as possible since said sales were included as revenue in the operating budget.

I initially opposed pulling the health department building from the list because that could potentially be a deal breaker on getting the one large firm that responded to follow through on its proposal. I was more concerned with making sure we got a large firm to work for us to sell the properties.

I felt that if we did end up selling the health department to Christian Outreach, the net cost to the county would only be whatever real estate commission would pertain to the health department.

I felt that would be a small price to pay to ensure that the Divaris proposal was executed and hopefully most of the excess properties were sold in a timely manner.

It had nothing to do with the fact that the potential purchaser was Christian Outreach. The overriding concern was to ensure that the county got the benefit, and soon, of professional help in selling all the properties.

Another board member said that if that firm refused to accept the revised list, we would just repeat the process and issue another RFP to sell the properties. I felt that if we only got one large company the first time, we would likely get none the next time if the county was going to cause those replying to do the background research on a number of properties, make a proposal, and then pull whichever properties it felt like after doing the background work.

Not a very ethical approach in my opinion.

I feared the county’s credibility regarding selling the properties would be lost if we started by pulling properties.

Newport District Supervisor Byron Bailey, who has experience in these matters and is familiar with how such RFPs are negotiated, convinced me that he felt it was quite possible that Divaris would be OK with pulling the one property.

After I had the benefit of his experience and insight, I readily agreed to the motion to award the RFP to Divaris with the exception of the health department property.

The county is fortunate to have someone of Mr. Bailey’s background and experience. I know I’m glad he’s on the board.

I called the elected leader of Christian Outreach to make sure they understood that I was in no way opposed to them making an offer on any property, but I did have an obligation to follow through on getting all the properties sold in a timely manner to the benefit of all the citizens.

Their leader thanked me for the call and said he appreciated my continued concern on their behalf.

AL CASTEEN is chairman for the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and represents the Smithfield District. He can be reached at acasteen@isleofwightus.net.

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