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|2/6/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Supervisors move up timetable for renovations to new county annex|
By Jeremy Huss
The Clinton County Board of Supervisors is scaling back plans and funding for a number of projects in order to complete renovations to the county's new annex building in DeWitt in the upcoming fiscal year, rather than spreading the project over two additional budget cycles.
Building maintenance manager Corey Johnson estimates it will cost $865,000 to complete the renovations to the former Candlelight restaurant and provide space for a satellite treasurer's office as well as offices for the departments of health, planning and zoning, veteran's affairs and other county offices located at the current annex building across from Central High School.
The Clinton County sheriff's office moved into the new annex at 226 11th St., DeWitt, in January.
The supervisors are condensing phase II and III of the renovation project into a single year in order to reduce construction mobilization costs and move personnel out of the old annex building so it can be sold.
Board members said they want to get the project complete so county residents can take advantage of the renovated facilities and also to free up funds in future fiscal years rather than tying money up for multiple years in the renovation effort.
Johnson said the estimated $865,000 renovation cost will pay for all the work needed to set up interior offices, finish a large meeting room, replace mechanical systems, install new roofs, replace windows and update the exterior of the building.
"This would put the building totally up and running next year," Johnson said.
The only portions of the project the supervisors have discussed that would be left incomplete are parking lot improvements and a six-car garage for the sheriff's office.
Johnson said the county could reduce the renovation cost by using less expensive materials for the exterior of the building. The current plan calls for a full brick exterior.
"I think we should plan for $865,000, but realistically, I think we can probably cut close to $100,000," Johnson said.
Completing the renovations in a single project year could save up to $35,000 in mobilization costs, he said.
"It's going to be a big lump sum, but after, we will be down to one building in DeWitt," Johnson said.
Johnson said he thinks the county can sell the current annex building and recoup around $250,000 toward the cost of the renovation project.
Completing the renovations sooner also means county maintenance staff won't have to split its time between Clinton and DeWitt for additional years, Johnson said.
Department heads and elected officials are scheduled to meet Feb. 12 with the project architect in order to prepare construction plans by mid-March and solicit bids in late April. The timeline calls for a mid-May bid opening, with work to begin in mid-June and the first payment to the contractor in July, when the new fiscal year begins.
Some ADA improvements delayed
To help pay for the expedited renovations, the supervisors are eliminating other projects that had been proposed for FY2014, including several improvements designed to bring county facilities into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The supervisors agreed during a budget workshop to cut $15,000 designated for ADA improvements at the law center/jail and to cut ADA funds at the courthouse from $15,000 to $5,000.
The law center funds would have been used to remodel two public rest rooms in the lobby, a bathroom in the jail's work release area and three shower units at the jail.
Johnson suggested the supervisors may not want to invest in all the ADA upgrades the county has identified since discussions are in progress about building a new jail and law center.
"If we're looking at replacing the law center, maybe we tone down the ADA projects," Johnson said.
The courthouse ADA funds would have paid for renovating two first-floor rest rooms to create additional space by entrances to facilitate wheelchair access, install wheelchair-accessible stalls and add electronic door openers.
The revised plan calls for electronic door openers to be installed in FY 2014, while the remainder of the work will be delayed.
In addition to limiting ADA improvements to cut costs, the supervisors reduced allocations for vehicle purchases and other miscellaneous expenses to defray the cost of the Candlelight renovation.
The board agreed to delay a project to install a generator at the administration building for one year as part of that effort.
Although the county has been awarded a $250,000 grant for the project, it is required to cover the costs up front with local tax dollars and then apply for reimbursement.
The grant award is good until 2015, Johnson said, so a one-year delay will allow the maintenance department to focus on the DeWitt annex building and also provide time to determine whether the 911 communications center will be relocated to the administration building.
If the 911 center is moved, it will affect the size of the generator needed to power the administration building.
The board also eliminated $30,000 in funding for security cameras at the courthouse and administration building, putting the projects off for at least another year.
Johnson said the county already has made significant security improvements at the administration building by reducing access to a single point of entry, installing a panic system and allocating funding for security personnel in FY 2014.
Money also is budgeted for security personnel at the courthouse, reducing the need for a camera system, Johnson said.
The supervisors left $15,000 in the budget for ADA improvements at the administration building for renovations to two rest rooms located near the treasurer's office. Work will begin in January 2014, Johnson said.
During discussion of the ADA funding, auditor Eric Van Lancker said the supervisors have complied with the law in identifying areas where improvements are needed and putting together a plan to accomplish the work but is limited by its finances from making all the improvements at once.
"I don't think anyone can say this county isn't working to meet ADA," Van Lancker said.
The county more easily will be able to afford the ADA improvements once the costly Candlelight renovation is complete, he said.
"Next year, that $865,000 is not going to be accounted for, and we can use it for ADA compliance and other things," said supervisor Jill Davisson.