In a pair of votes Tuesday, elected officials ignored an attorney’s advice and accepted a $161,454 bid from Kosciusko House Movers to relocate the historic home and agreed to a covenant with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
The covenant, which requires the city to maintain the house for at least 25 years, was the final step to receive a $175,000 state grant.
The city must match those funds with $35,000. Calvary Baptist Church, which owns the downtown property where the home sits, will provide $10,000 of that match. It had planned to demolish the home.
Tupelo City Council members had postponed the covenant’s acceptance since mid-April because they wanted a firm price on the relocation, originally estimated at $100,000.
The sole bid came in higher than anticipated – $161,454 to move and stabilize the house but not prepare the foundation. Kosciusko House Movers Owner John Williams verbally agreed last week to reduce the price by $16,000 if the city performed some work.
The offices of the state Attorney General and state Auditor gave Tupelo consent to perform work to lower the contract price, said city attorney John Hill.
But Tupelo still lacks a formal contract with Williams, and Hill advised against accepting anything until the city gets one.
Both passed 4-3, with dissenting votes by Ward 5 Councilman Johnny Davis, Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan and council President Fred Pitts of Ward 2.
The Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission will assume liability of the house after its move, which has to be done by Oct. 1.