Real estate contract stumps Commissioners
By LPR Staff
What should have been the relatively simple approval of a listing contract became almost comically complicated during the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court on Monday morning.
In preparation to vacate two buildings on the Square as several County functions take up residenc
e in the Caldwell County Justice Center this month, the Court solicited for interested real estate brokers to list the properties on San Antonio Street and Market Street last month. Despite the opportunity having been offered to several brokers throughout the region, only one company, Davis Equity Realty of the Rio Grande Valley, responded to the request. Heavy reliance on the website, rather than local advertising, could have resulted in the lack of local response.
Bolstered by his experience in the field of real estate sales, Commissioner Fred Buchholtz has expressed concerns from the beginning about contracting a listing agent for the properties. Specifically, he said, he had spoken with area real estate brokers who hoped for a chance at the listing.
Unfortunately, his contacts did not respond to the posting, and County Auditor Larry Roberson warned that any attempt to change or re-advertise for interest in the listing would set the County back at Square One, restarting the process from the beginning. “The chances of finding a buyer using a local Realtor ® is not as good as it would be with the larger firms out of Austin and San Antonio,” Roberson said.
“The market is the market,” reiterated Judge Tom Bonn. “And the fact that we only got one response suggests that the ‘big boys’ don’t even want to talk to us.”
Regardless, Buchholtz said, he wanted to engage in further discussion with the broker, in an attempt to get the commission scale reduced, and the one-year listing period shortened.
Commissioner Joe Roland, quiet for most of the conversation, initially made a motion not to approve the contract. His position, however, was based not in the fact that he does not approve of the contract, but rather that he has been steadfastly against selling the San Antonio Street building, the current home of the Caldwell County Courthouse Annex, from the beginning.
His colleagues reminded Roland that the buildings should not sit empty until the County grows to the point they are of use again, and that the properties will do more good if they are put back on the tax rolls.
Later, Commissioner Neto Madrigal moved to table the item, in an effort to engage in further discussion with Davis Equity, as well as to discuss the matter with local real estate brokers.
However, Assistant District Attorney Rachael Glasoe reminded the Commissioners that, because they have entered into negotiations with Davis Equity, it would not be possible to discuss a contract with another provider, without first rejecting the Davis contract and re-advertising for interest.
Thirty minutes later, Buchholtz was still staunchly defending his position that the County should ask Davis Equity for additional considerations, and Bonn was calling on Judge-Elect Kenneth Schawe for his advise, as a real estate professional, as well as his opinion as the incoming Judge.
“If we find that this broker isn’t doing the job we want them to, it is occasionally appropriate to break that listing agreement,” Schawe said. “There is room to make sure that the broker has the word out with the local agents that the properties are for sale to give them the chance to bring the buyer.”
After extensive conversation on the matter, Glasoe reminded the Commissioners that discussion of the contract negotiations should have taken place in an executive session. However, because of confusion about the listed agenda items, as well as some disagreement as to whether the meeting had adjourned before Glasoe offered her advise about executive session, the Commissioners were forced to call a special meeting to discuss the matter.
They will meet at 1 p.m. on Thursday in the second-floor courtroom at the Caldwell County Courthouse.
In other business, they voted to offer a 45-day extension, with an additional 30 days to address technical issues, for the preliminary plat of the 130 Environmental Park.
On the advice of engineer Tracy Bratton, the Commissioners opted to approve the extension to give the company time to address concerns Bratton has brought forward about their preliminary plat, as well as to allow Bratton the time to review any changes made as a result of those concerns. Bratton said 45 days would be sufficient time for the concerns to be addressed.
In brief news:
The County paid bills in the amount of $466,966.28.
They approved a series of payments in relation to the construction project at the Caldwell County Justice Center, including: a payment to Les Reddin, LongLife Projects in the amount of $8,100 for the Justice Service Center project management work; and payment to Braun and Butler Construction in the amount of $290,605.95 the Caldwell County Justice Center.
They approved consulting services to Aulick & Associates in the amount of $5,000
(40 hours at $125/hour) for consultant services for the period of Nov. 1 – 30, 2014.
The Commissioners approved a one-time $1,000 donation to the Caldwell County
Courthouse Decorating Committee for the purchase of new Christmas decorations, and they also approved bonds for several Caldwell County employees and elected officials.
They appointed Ben Twidwell and James Lipscomb for four-year terms on the Plum Creek Conservation District Board of Directors, and appointed Terry Pim, JoAnne Germer and Bobby Barboza to the Caldwell County Emergency Service District No. 2 (Maxwell area) Board of Directors.
The Court chose, at the recommendation of Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey,to leave the outdoor burning ban off.
The next meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court will take place at the Caldwell County Justice Center on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, beginning at 9 a.m. The meeting will be open to the public, and interested residents are encouraged to attend the meeting, and later at 10 a.m., the official Grand Opening and Open House at the Caldwell County Justice Center.
**In an update from our print version, after a special-called executive session on Thursday, the Commissioners voted to reject the contract from Davis Equity, and re-advertise for a real estate broker at a later time.