BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – A request for additional funding has been approved for continuing work on the South Lee County Courthouse, but in an amount smaller than was discussed last week.
John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants, requested up to an additional $4,000 for tuck-pointing, draining, and electrical work on the courthouse. E & H Restoration out of Davenport was awarded the tuckpointing contract originally for $311,425.
On two separate occasions in October, the board approved a total of approximately $110,000 in additional funds for the tuckpointing work. The tuckpointing work is now at just under $426,000, a 36.7% increase over the original contract.
Work to replace the roofing on the courthouse began in September with original contracts from two companies, Meyers & James Roofing of Keokuk and Hopkins Roofing of Pella, totaling $258,000.
Supervisor Gary Folluo said the costs, even though higher than original estimates, and bids are within the five-year plan approved for the buildings.
“But in the five-year plan, we knew it was going to be $1.5 to $2 million to address the things in that five-year plan. We knew that,” he said. “A lot of the issues that we had have been addressed by the maintenance department before we even started these projects.”
Supervisor Matt Pflug agreed with Folluo and took it a step farther and said this is what the taxpayers said they wanted.
“I think what they’re saying is that they’re willing to spend a million or whatever, but they weren’t willing to spend 8, 10 ,12 million whatever on a new building. That’s the message they sent…that we’ll spend the money, but we need to get these buildings up to snuff.”
Supervisor Ron Fedler said he remembers Hanson and Ed Soenke of Design Partnership saying the cost of the project will continue to climb.
“Well I want to respond to Gary’s comment that it was going to cost between $1.5 and $2 million and that was by the architect, but last week I heard you and Ed admit that it was going to be higher than that,” Fedler said. “The estimate for tuckpointing was 90K and we’re five times that much. If tuckpointing estimates were that far off, how far off is the $1.5 million total. It’s common sense. Its going to be far more than the architect had estimated.”
Hanson said he was not part of the study at that point.
Supervisor Don Hunold said he was voting for the extra $4,000 but cautioned everyone that the costs are already out of line.
“I’m just saying these bids original and estimates are so far off it’s not even funny,” Hunold said. “When we took this to the folks and said we’re looking at building a new courthouse what do you think, these were the numbers we used instead of these super-realistic numbers. All of a sudden we’re damn close to a million dollars – we’re not there yet – but we’re gonna get there and that’s just one building.”
“Why are we second guessing the tax payers here. They spoke,” Pflug said.
At that point, Board Chair Rick Larkin cut him off and then asked for a vote and the motion then passed 4-1 with Ron Fedler voting against the extra spending.
After the meeting, Pflug said he represented the whole county and was moving the direction taxpayers had indicated.
“We represent the tax payers is all I”m saying. They spelled out what they wanted here and this shouldn’t get back into whether I want one building or buildings in both cities,” Pflug said.
“We have to do what tax payers have asked us to do. It’s not like we’re spend an ungodly amount of money here. We knew this going into it that it would take x amount of money to get these buildings fixed. I do represent the whole county and that’s where I’m coming from and I think we’ll get where we want to be. Let’s remember what they voted on. They didn’t want an $8.5 million building, they wanted us to fix these.”
County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom asked the board for a budget amendment hearing to move a $475,000 appropriation into the local option sales tax funds to cover the costs of the repairs. The board voted 5-0, to set the public hearing on the amendment for Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.
In other action, the board:
- approved, 5-0 to enroll in the National Association of Counties, which will allow county employees to utilize the services of the national group as well as providing a health discount card for residents of Lee County. The cost to enroll was $500 but that was picked up by the regional county association.
- approved, 5-0 to hire a full-time replacement maintenance foreman for the Secondary Roads department for an employee that was retiring.
- approved 5-0 to appoint Larry Kruse and Kathy Gabel to the county compensation board.
- approved, 5-0 an amended sheriff’s fee resolution that corrected a fee for acquiring a firearm from $15 per year to $40 for five years.