To the Editor:
In mid December, the local newspaper main story was about the county’s purchase of the Walmart Building and what a wonderful job the County Administrator did in the negotiations. Two issues have been bothering me since.
County Administrators are provided for by law “to assist a county judge in county with a population of more that 1.5 million.” Why do we have one?
The second and for me the most compelling issue is the secrecy surrounding the purchase. As a taxpayer and resident of Caldwell County I feel betrayed by the actions of the Court to contract and proceed with the purchase without any citizens input in any public hearing.
I gather as a cost saving measure the decision was made by someone not to use an experience Commercial Property Broker but to have the “County Administrator” broker the purchase. The only due diligence required in the contract was to have the Court approve the document.
According to the contract Walmart has provided a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment and a Property Condition Screen along with a survey of the property with the County reimbursing Walmart at closing. A Phase 1 is the bare minimum environmental assessment, and I have no idea what a Property Condition Screen is all about.
However, it really does not matter.
The County is buying the property as is without warranty as to the condition of the property or environmental matters. We are now responsible for any and all environmental issue on the property. At this point who knows what the cost to the County will be for any potential clean ups. Additionally, we have no idea what the eventual construction, furnishing, and maintenance cost will be to the county, but nonetheless, the county is going forward with the purchase.
Why has this whole process of buying a building been done is such secrecy?
Why do we not have a say in how our money is to be spent?
What is it we are not entitled to know?
If it is to go forward I believe it should be done by a bond issue.
Rebecca M Hawener
Caldwell County Judge (Retired)