The new Guilford County animal shelter just took a big step forward and it’s set to take another big one in February.

On Thursday, Jan. 16, the bidding closed for the contract to build the new roughly $15-million facility on Guilford College Road – and Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing informed the county’s Board of Commissioners that evening that the county got a whopping seven bids to do the work.

“Five of those seven bids were very tight ones as far as pricing and it looks like we will be able to stay within the predetermined budget for that project,” Lawing said, something that came as very good news to the commissioners.

In 2018 and 2019, there were fears that the cost of the animal shelter would turn out to be much more than originally planned. The commissioners had hoped at one point years ago to build the shelter for under $10 million. However, in 2018 and 2019, cost estimates from staff came in closer to $20 million. Unhappy commissioners sent staff back to the drawing board and staff lowered the capacity of the shelter and removed some features.

The bids Lawing discussed at the Board of Commissioners came in closer to the $14.8 million the commissioners have planned for the project.

Lawing said at the meeting that staff should have a construction package ready for the board very soon.

“Hopefully, we’ll be in a position to have a contract for the board to consider at the next meeting,” Lawing told the commissioners at their Jan. 16 meeting.

There was some trepidation regarding the bid process because the economy has been so hot lately that construction firms are in some cases very hard to come by. For instance, in 2019, Piedmont Triad International Airport had a great deal of difficulty finding any bidders at all for a runway renovation project that’s finally underway.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips cautioned recently that Guilford County was expecting to see $7.7 million in this fiscal year for a new mental health facility once the state budget is adopted. Phillips said that, since the state might not adopt a budget this year, Guilford County might have to delay some construction projects that it had planned for the near future.