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Pearson's Wins Bid

CUMBERLAND – During their meeting on September 11, the Cumberland Board of Supervisors voted to approve Pearson's Appraisal Service, Inc. to complete the County's reassessment at $15.90 per parcel.

Three proposals were submitted in response to the board's second request for proposals for the complete general reassessment of real property.

Last month, the board voted unanimously to issue a second request for proposals, after only one of the two companies that submitted proposals, Pearson's, met all of the criteria for a qualifying bid. At the time, Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, also stated that he had personally received complaints regarding the assessment completed by Pearson's the previous year.

County Administrator Vivian Giles first pointed out that this month all three companies met the requirements of the request for proposals. This time, the companies were all bonded and willing to work with the county's existing computer system.

The lowest bidder was at $13.50 a parcel, plus an additional charge of $5 per manufactured home. Pearson's bid was $15.90 a parcel. The most expensive proposal was $15.95 per parcel.

Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, raised the question of rejecting the lowest bidder. Upon questioning from Osl, Giles stated that in the request for proposals the county expressly reserved the right to not choose the lowest bid.

When asked if there were any concerns about the two remaining companies, Commissioner of Revenue Anita French stated that she called other localities that had used the other two companies and found “no complaint with either one…Pearson has been here since – I've been in the office since 1988 – he's been here since that time. I have had no complaint with what he's done… I think I can work with either of those.”

In relation to choosing the lowest of the remaining bids, Osl asked, “Is there any reason, from a professional standpoint, that one is known to do better or worse in the application of whatever processes or procedures they use in coming up with their values, from a reassessment standpoint?” French responded, “I have worked with Pearson since 1988 and I have never had any problems.” Nor, French said, had she seen anything in the way of complaints against the second company being considered by the board.

Banks then raised the question of the amount of the bid proposed by Pearson's. Giles confirmed that Pearson's proposal amount per parcel was higher for Cumberland County than for Buckingham. Buckingham had received two bids for their reassessment: a high bid of $14.50 from one company and Pearson's bid of $13.70, which was $2.20 less per parcel than Pearson's Cumberland bid. Giles suggested that although she did not know for sure, perhaps Buckingham received a lower bid per parcel because the county as a whole contains more parcels and would require less overhead.

Banks stated that the board now had two proposals: one for $147,488 and another one for $147,952. He continued, “the two bids are roughly $500 apart, but they are considerably higher than what they offered our next county over. Which brings me to the question, why are they so generous to Buckingham and so unforgiving to Cumberland?…My immediate concern for these proposals is are they willing to reduce their proposals? Are they willing to offer us what they offered Buckingham?”

During further discussion, Giles pointed out that the county would have to do another request for bids rather than make an offer back to the companies. Although she pointed out that if a contract is awarded, some discussion regarding rates could take place. However, Banks doubted the likelihood of a company being willing to reduce its bid after a contract has already been awarded.

Supervisor Parker Wheeler, District Five, moved to approve for Pearson's Appraisal Services.

Upon questioning, it was confirmed by Giles that action would have to be taken that night in order to stay on track with the current project plan. Earlier in the meeting, French had explained that October 1 is the stated start date of the company that is chosen. The assessors need to start gathering data in October to create a Sales Ratio Report. They will then start their field work in January.

Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three, said that what bothered him was “we have only had these three come back to us. If we voted not to take action on it tonight, to try to negotiate a lower price, they might not return a response. Then they get taken. We don't have anybody to crawl back to. I'm satisfied with pursuing it tonight.”

The motion to approve Pearson's Appraisal Services passed with four votes in favor and Banks abstaining.