updated on 11/29 to correct credit card increase for County Attorney to pay for witness fees associated with the Midwest Academy trial set for Dec. 12.
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Just four weeks after securing a $96,000 change order for additional tuck-pointing at the South Lee County Courthouse, consultants overseeing the project were back in front of Lee County Supervisors again Tuesday for more funds in repairing the 19th century building.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, a small group of supervisors heard additional updates on the progress of the South Lee County Courthouse Tuesday, including a pending request for additional funds for tuck pointing, electrical, and drainage work.
John Hanson and Midwest Construction Consultants and Ed Soenke of Design Partners updated supervisors Rick Larkin, Ron Fedler, and Gary Folluo about progress in the bell tower at the courthouse, Supervisors Matt Pflug and Don Hunold were not in attendance.
At a special meeting earlier this month Hanson requested an additional $96,000 to continue tuck-pointing work on the courthouse that was originally built in the 1800s. That increase bumped original estimates of $311,000 closer to $420,000. A $13,000 increase had been approved back in October.
Hanson told the board that as plaster is removed crews from E & H Restoration are finding additional areas that need to be taken care of. Additionally, Hanson said there have been some drainage issues along the walls and some electrical issues that need to be cleaned up as well.
“There’s some flashing that has deteriorated and it’s allowing drainage to escape from a collection pan and run down the walls and that’s causing some problems so we need to get in there and fix that pipe,” Hanson told the board.
He said approximately 1,500 square feet of additional brick would need tuck pointed but he said he would get a more firm number and cost for the next supervisors’ meeting. Fedler motioned that the additional funding request be tabled until all the supervisors were in attendance. Hanson said the contract is set at $15/foot for tuck-pointing which would result in an additional $22,500.
“I got a phone call from Don Hunold and he asked that we table any additional requests for funding until he returns and he’s indicated he will be back next week,” Fedler said. Hunold has been out with health-related issues.
Folluo drew the ire of Fedler when Folluo said even with the expanded costs of the repairs, it’s still cheaper than the $20 million for a new courthouse.
“It wasn’t $20 million it was $8 million,” Fedler said. “You need to make sure you have your figures right. This is the same scare tactic you used before.”
Folluo said he favored tabling the motion but wanted Hanson to bring back more accurate numbers as to the increased cost of repairs. Folluo was visibly upset at the added cost of the repairs and said he was concerned that there wouldn’t be funds remaining in the maintenance for the rest of the building, not to mention north Lee County’s courthouse.
Fedler, too, was exasperated with the continued requests for additional funds.
“What I know John and Ed,.. I know this is starting to turn into a lot more than was told to the public,” Fedler said. “Ed, I have your first survey of the south courthouse for tuck pointing and the clock tower with a 10-year warranty we were looking at $90,000. We are now at $441,000 and a lot of the taxpayers in my district say they wish they would have known that before the vote was held last year on what to do. They were under the understanding that it wasn’t going to cost this much.”
Fedler said he used to be a brick layer when he was younger and said with the amount of cracking going on in the courthouse, they’re going to continue to have problems.
He said the county had $800,000 built up in building maintenance funds, and before the repairs started they had about $460,000 left in the fund.
“Now we are just over $100,000 and I’m concerned about how much money we’re spending and if we’ll have enough to take care of the other buildings,” Fedler said.
Hanson said the interior tuck-pointing should help shore everything up when coupled with the exterior repairs currently underway. He said tuck pointing should be good for at least 15 years.
In other action,
– the board voted 3-0 to approve hiring of two candidates Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber had submitted for full-time correctional officers at the Lee County Jail.
– the board voted 3-0 for the first of two annual transfers from the county’s Rural Basic Fund into Secondary Roads in the amount of $889,473. Board chair Rick Larkin said the transfer was a routine transfer of funds.
– the board voted to approve step pay increases for Dep. Jordan Maag and two Lee County Health Department staffers, Jamie Beskow and Leslie Dettmers-Klesner.
– the board increased Lee County Attorney Clinton Boddicker’s credit card limit to $10,000 to help cover costs associated with bringing in witnesses for a Dec. 12 trial regarding an upcoming trial associated with the Midwest Academy that has been turned over to Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations. The trial is being handled by the Iowa Attorney General’s office, but fees associated with the trial are billed to Lee County with a significant a number of out of state witnesses. Officials have said costs could run anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to the county.