It’s not the end of the world that Barrow County officials gave away an old house so it could be moved off county property. In fact, officials apparently thought that the person taking the house off their hands was doing them a favor.
till, it’s difficult to believe that nobody in county government ever considered that simply giving away a house without any bids was the right process. Surely someone among county officials said, “Gee, do you think we ought to bid this before we give it away?”
Apparently not. And therein lies a more fundamental issue than the house giveaway. Why would anyone in government from three different agencies believe that giving away public property without a bid process was appropriate?
Amateurish, at best.
In addition to the lack of bids, no public agency ever voted for officials to get rid of the old house, although the Barrow County Board of Commissioners, the Joint Development Agency and the Airport Authority were all involved in the deal.
To complicate matters even more, the person taking the house has a pending lawsuit with the county over the zoning of the property, but the county’s permitting department issued permits for the house anyway.
And the county attorney apparently knew nothing about the entire matter.
To say there was a communications breakdown is an understatement. And if this is common in county government, no wonder things are a mess.
In this situation, there apparently wasn’t any kind of insider deal or favors for friends of public officials. But next time, there could be.
That’s why public officials shouldn’t just give away public property without following a standard bid process. No matter how attractive the deal may look, there are reasons for having an open bid procedure in government.
And anyway, the officials who gave away the house — it wasn’t their house to give away in the first place.