The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

January 18, 2012

Commission OKs terms for architect

The Limestone County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract with an architect for proposed courthouse renovations, though the decision wasn’t unanimous.

Commissioners approved a revised version of a contract with Montgomery-based 2WR that guarantees the firm 8.4 percent of the total project cost, estimated to be $3 million. The contract also stipulates that the architect and construction manager Martin & Cobey Co. Inc. are required to work within that amount on the renovations, according to county attorney Mark Maclin. It also states the renovations must be completed within 24 months.

Martin & Cobey stands to make 5 percent from the courthouse project, according to a contract approved in October.

District 4 Commissioner Bill Daws questioned if the county should include a stipulation in the architect’s contract that would prevent 2WR from charging the county for outside consultant and engineering fees. Maclin said any additional services and charges would first have to be approved by the commission.

Daws also asked if the contract could include a performance clause that would penalize the architect and construction manager if the renovations extended beyond 24 months. But other commissioners feared the architect’s 8 percent fee would go up if they were held responsible for a contractor’s work.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said with any large project, “you’re going to run into things” in regard to change orders. He said the county “ran into problems” with the construction of the Clinton Street annex, but those issues were with the contractor and not the architect.

“This contract is to design a building to these specifications,” Menefee said. “(2WR) may go up on their price if you put another monkey on their back. If (delays) are over the fault of the design, that will fall back on the architect.”

Following the meeting, Daws said county leaders should have called the architects to ask if they would be amenable to a clause holding them responsible for project deadlines and excess costs.

Menefee, however, said the county does not need further delays on getting the project under way.

“I don’t see how our judicial system functions like it is,” he said, noting the lack of trial space and judges’ quarters. “If we sign the contract now, we might get some (architectural) plans back within two months.”

Menefee said the courthouse renovations were initially expected to cost upwards of $5 million, but both the architect and construction manager assured the county the project could be completed for $3 million.

He said the county would likely have the funds to pay for the project, but could look at a construction bond for a proposed $2 million expansion of the county jail.

Elsewhere, the commission approved a resolution that would provide eligible employees, retirees and elected officials a one-time payment of $250 as part of a medical reimbursement plan.

To be eligible for the plan, employees must submit an affidavit this month stating out-of-pocket expenses for medical, dental and/or vision visits, prescriptions and co-pays not paid or reimbursed by the insurer or third-party payer during 2011.

In other business, the commission:

• Awarded a bid of $16,312 to Information Management Services LLC for electronic data conversion and printing for the license commission;

• Approved job description revisions for the Council on Aging;

• Scheduled a public hearing for March 5 to hear comments on vacating part of a right-of-way between Airport Road, west of Edgewood Road, and Easter Ferry Road;

• Approved plant mix resurfacing in the amount of $73,885 for a little more than a half-mile of Mooresville Road from U.S. 72 to Capshaw Road. The commission also approved a plant mix resurfacing in the amount of $155,184 for more than 1 mile of Mooresville Road from Barksdale to Copeland roads.

The commission will meet again at 10 a.m. on Feb. 1 at the Washington Street annex for a work session.

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