The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners held what will likely be their last meeting in Administrative Building 2 on Monday night. While commissioners still plan to close the building in coming weeks, they won't be tearing it down just yet.
Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to reject a $341,000 bid from Complete Demolition Services of Newnan to tear down the building at 214 W. King St., across from the Whitfield County Courthouse.
Commissioners Harold Brooker, Greg Jones and Barry Robbins voted to reject the bid. Board Chairman Lynn Laughter and Commissioner Roger Crossen voted to accept it.
Commissioners who voted to reject the bid cited concerns about the cost.
"I think we can save money on the contract. I think (the Whitfield County Public Works Department) can do it cheaper," said Jones.
Robbins said he's not yet convinced the building needs to come down.
"But I acquiesced to say that if the building is to come down, I was not in favor of accepting the bid but rather to let our public works people do it, so we can save taxpayer money," he said.
Commissioners haven't gotten a formal cost estimate of what it would cost for their public works department to tear the building down.
"But I talked to (Dalton Public Works Director) Benny Dunn about what it cost the city to tear down the hotel near the interstate, and it cost them $140,000 to tear that building down," said Jones. "And that had a lot of concrete. (Administrative Building 2) should be cheaper because it's just a big old shell."
Dunn said Monday night it cost the city about $150,000 to tear down the Econo Lodge on Tampico Way.
"That was our cost for fuel, labor and the tipping fee (for the debris) at the landfill," Dunn said.
The city paid companies $148,000 for asbestos abatement, Dunn said.
But Laughter says she is "very concerned" about having public works tear down the building.
"This was a company whose job is to demolish buildings. That's what they do," she said. "That's not what our public works department does. I'm concerned about liability and dealing with any environmental issues. I'm concerned about public works being taken off other things they need to do over the summer."
Laughter says she expects commissioners will put out a bid to abate any environmental issues in the building. After that is done, they will vote to have public works tear the building down.
Administrative Building 2 houses the offices of the accountability courts — Domestic Violence Court, Drug Court and Mental Health Court — and the RESOLV (Recognizing, Exposing, Stopping Our Learned Violence) Project anger management program, a nonprofit program that works with the accountability courts in Whitfield and Murray counties.
Those offices will be moved over the summer into Administrative Building 1 at 301 W. Crawford St.
Administrative Building 1 currently houses county administration, engineering, information technology, finance, human resources, building inspector and public relations offices. Most of those offices will move to the fourth and fifth floors of the Wells Fargo Bank building at 201 S. Hamilton St. by July 1.
Commissioners in April approved a two-year lease for the top three floors of the Wells Fargo building. The county will pay $10,160 a month for a little over 18,000 square feet.
Administrative Building 2, located at the corner of King Street and Selvidge Street, opened in 1967 as a church and has a number of structural issues. The Dalton Fire Department sent the county a three-page letter last year detailing the ways the building fails to meet the fire code, including insufficient emergency lighting, use of extension cords because of insufficient electrical wiring and no central fire alarm system.
In March, the Dalton Fire Department sent county officials a letter telling them the county would have to vacate the building by April 1. The sides later reached an agreement that the county could continue to use the building while commissioners decide what to do with it as long as they have a certified firefighter in the building performing "fire watch" patrol whenever there are people in the building.