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New Castle seal

The difference between a winning bid and a losing one in New Castle can amount to just $125.

In reference to surety or bid bonds, that's the amount routinely between New Castle's city council approving a bid for a repository property or denying it on the grounds of it being uninhabitable, dilapidated or having back taxes.

At Thursday's council meeting, 18 bids were received for properties ranging between $500 and $600. Of those 18, 16 bids were backed up by surety or bid bonds. It's no coincidence as to why two bids were rejected.

Prior to voting on a property bid by Barbara White at 618 Superior St. for $580, council president Tom Smith asked her how much her bid cost.

She replied from the crowd: $125.

"Get out. $125?" he replied, tongue firmly in cheek. "Ladies and gentlemen, $125. $125 and you can come on down and get a property and you're protecting the city."

Earlier in the meeting, Simth explained to Alex Pagley, who was speaking on behalf of his son, Gavin. A bid in the name of the younger Pagley for a property at 800 S. Mill St. for $600 was denied, in part, because it wasn't currently backed up by a bond. 

"With a surety or a bid bond, if something would happen, then the demo costs would not fall back on the taxpayers of New Castle," Smith said. 

The other property denied Thursday was at 921 E. Washington St. by bidder Nelek E. Mitchell Sr. for $500. In addition to having blank spots on his application, the property was deemed by the city's code enforcement department as "beyond repair," Smith said. 

Both were unanimously denied by 5 to 0 votes. 

"This system that council is doing, we're protecting the taxpayers to the ultimate degree," councilman Tim Fulkerson said. "Also people ... with back taxes and that. It all comes back to fruition and we're getting money that is owed to us. To council, my hat's off to you for doing the right thing."

This trend also occurred at the May 27 meeting, the last time repository property bids were voted on, when 13 bids came before council. That night, seven bids were approved.

Four of the properties not approved were on bids by Jemmell Clark, who didn't have bonds on any of the properties. He returned to council on Thursday and was successful in all four of his new bids, now backed up by bonds. Three of the properties were the same ones he was denied for in May.

Also at the meeting, council approved a 12-month agreement between BearCom for the city's fire department radios and an agreement between the New Castle Area School District and the city's police department for two police officers as resource officers this school year.

Matthew Blakley was approved for a conditional use for 10 to 12 game of skill machines at 341 E. Washington St. Justin Sheldone and Patsy DeFrank were also approved for a conditional use for a office, retail and personal space at 100 E. Reynolds St.

Council also moved to remove two items from the agenda — the hiring of two officers because of a scheduling error and the authorization for a multimodal grant. Council members agreed to reconsider the direction of the grant before its end-of-July deadline depending on an opportunity with the former Shenango China property.

psirianni@ncnewsonline.com

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Pete Sirianni is the News' assistant editor and digital editor. He is a proud Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at psirianni@ncnewsonline.com or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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