By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The lone bid received by the city for the Heritage Center has been sent back to the Havre City Council's Finance Committee and may be rejected.
"We feel it's too low," committee chair Tom Farnham said Tuesday. "We would like to put the building out for bid (again). It would be a shame to sell the building for $5,000. We think it's worth a lot more than that."
The city received a bid of $5,000, with a $500 deposit, from Tom and Jamie Lambrecht by the Jan. 18 deadline for submitting bids.
The Finance Committee had referred the bid to the full council. At Monday's council meeting, Farnham said the bid would be sent back to the committee at the request of Mayor Bob Rice.
The Finance Committee will again consider the bid during a meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in City Hall. Any decision to accept or reject the bid - or reopen the bidding process - must be made by the full City Council.
The city used $89,600 from the state's Community Transportation Enhancement Program to purchase the former post office and courthouse from the U.S. Postal Service in 1996.
The building had been leased by the Clack Foundation until July 1, when the foundation said it could no longer afford to operate it. The city has said it can't afford to operate the building either and has closed it down.
This is the third time the city has put the building up for bid, and the second time that it advertised statewide.
Lambrecht has said the couple wants to develop the facility as a professional office complex and cultural center.
In September, the Lambrechts came to the city with two proposals, one a public-private partnership in which the Lambrechts would pay the city $5,000, plus an additional cost match if the city applied for CTEP funds to fix the building's roof. The second offer was for $20,000, with the city having no further responsibilities for the building.
More recently, the city received a bid of $75,000 from Bob Nault and his silent partners. The Havre City Council had voted 5-4 on Dec. 6, with Mayor Bob Rice casting the deciding vote, in favor of not accepting any other bids until the council had reached a decision on Nault's bid.
The Northcentral Montana Community Ventures Coalition had submitted a letter of intent but no dollar bid, under the impression that a dollar bid wasn't required.
Later, at Nault's request, Rice decided out of concern for fairness to reject Nault's bid and restart the bidding process.