|Administration building plans pending bids|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Mike Anderson|
|Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:25|
A few years after the state appropriated $800,000 to help build a new county administration building, county commissioners were still not quite ready this week to make a firm decision to proceed with the project despite having recently spent about $23,000 on a set of revised plans.
“We’re at a go or no-go decision point,” County Manager C.J. Thompson told commissioners during a board meeting on September 6. “The plans are finished.”
A decision is expected later this month or next month after bids have been received from contractors.
The architect in charge of designing the structure, Erik Kasper, told the board a few weeks ago that the engineering work would be completed by the end of August and that construction could begin as soon as permits were pulled.Mr. Thompson told commissioners that he advised the architect to hold off on obtaining permits until he had spoken with the board to determine whether they wanted to move forward with the project or not. Commissioners indicated a clear preference for completing the project, which was originally part of a plan to alleviate crowding at the courthouse. The state grant was predicated on a commitment to provide office space in the existing county administration building for state attorney’s office staff once the new structure is built.
“I’m in favor of honoring the previous commitment made by this board and move forward,” said Chairman Michael Crews.
Commissioner Gordon Crews expressed a similar sense of responsibility to the courthouse.
“We’re obligated to provide space for them,” he said.
If the county decides to hire a contractor to build the 9,800-square-foot structure, Clerk of Court Al Fraser said it won’t be completed solely with state grant funds, which now total around $700,000.
“You are not going to build that building for $700,000,” Mr. Fraser told commissioners. “The board is going to have to come up with some (additional) money.”
Finally, the board agreed to have the county manager advertise the project and solicit bids from general contractors. Once they know how much the project will cost, then they can decide whether to bite the bullet and finish the job or pull the plug on the project and return the state’s money.
“All right, we’ll start working on it,” Mr. Thompson said.
If the project is postponed it would be the second time that has occurred in two years. A budget crunch forced the plans to be temporarily halted in 2009 when then-County Manager Joe Cone said there wasn’t enough money in the county’s coffers to finish it.
Instead, county staff was moved into the former sheriff’s administration offices and annex building, including the building department, grants department, environmental services and planning and zoning.
The architect told commissioners in June that the new county building, which is to be located on a 6-acre site next to the sheriff’s complex on CR 228, could be built for approximately $95 per square foot, which would put the total cost at about $931,000.
In other business, the board:
• Approved an agreement with the University of Florida’s College of Medicine and Dr. William F. Hamilton for medical examiner services to Baker County at an annual cost of $23,622, in addition to separate fees for autopsies and related services.
However, Chairman Michael Crews noted his reluctance to approve the agreement because it means the county will have to help fund a portion of a 3 percent salary increase from the state to offset a requirement that all employees, including medical examiners, pay 3 percent toward their own retirement.
Mr. Crews said it disturbed him that the county had “no choice but to pay it,” yet the county cannot afford to give its own employees a 3 percent raise to compensate them for the state-mandated retirement contribution.
• Approved a consultant contract with Scott Crews, fire safety inspector for the City of Macclenny, for fire safety services for the county at a rate of $20 an hour, including site plan and construction plan reviews, fire protection systems reviews and other related services.
The contract was set for a term of 90 days to give the county time to advertise for a qualified person to fill the position on a permanent basis.
• Appointed Philip Zamarron to voting-member status on the county’s Local Planning Agency. He had been serving as an alternate member. Scott Lyons was appointed to fill the alternate seat.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2011 08:37|