EDWARDSVILLE — An engineering contract for work to be done at the Madison County Courthouse was met with opposition at Wednesday’s County Board meeting.
Six board members — Republicans Judy Kuhn, Roger Alons, Mick Madison, Brad Maxwell, Tom McRae and Lisa Ciampoli — voted against awarding a contract to engineering firm William Tao and Associates for design of improvements to the 101-year-old building, including an overhauled HVAC system and elevator work. The contract, which was approved by the board despite the opposition, is for $478,300, with another $59,400 paid to the company for reimbursable expenses and $121,440 for on-site inspection and observation once work is under way.
The engineering contract is the second step of the project, after William Tao was hired by the county in July 2015 to do a study of the courthouse’s needs. The county paid the firm $16,840 to perform that study, the results of which were presented to the county’s Buildings and Facilities Management Committee in March.
The firm suggested more than $6 million in fixes and upgrades for the building, including changes to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and a break room for the Circuit Clerk’s Office, but the buildings committee trimmed the project to focus on heating and air conditioning issues while also addressing electrical service, fire alarm system and elevator enhancements. At a Finance Committee meeting earlier this month, Madison County Administrator Joe Parente said the project will likely come in around $5.2 million after contingencies.
Madison, a member of the buildings committee who voted against the contract at the committee level as well, said he saw the need for the heating and air conditioning overhaul in the building but said he felt it “morphed into” a bigger project as time went along.
“I think that we’re probably turning this into an excessive project, to a degree,” Madison said. “When you want to do one project, and you decide since you’re doing that you decide to do another, and another, and another project along with it, now you have to hire an engineering company to bring it all together. That’s half a million dollars. Then you have to bring in a general contractor to manage the whole project.
“If we just did the air conditioning system, you can get bids on that, you can have a couple contractors come in, you can pick which guy’s idea you like best, you can go out for bid on it, and then that company can go do the job, where this way you have to just bring a lot more people into it.”
Madison also cited the jail renovation project, which has been in the works for years, as a concern, saying the county may be writing checks it is not currently able to cash.
“We haven’t started on the jail project yet. If we’re unaware of where that money is going to come from … there’s nothing pushing us into this project in a hurry. We just had an inspection and we weren’t cited for anything. I think that it’s something that we probably ought to wait on,” Madison said.
Parente outlined the plan for paying for both projects, saying the county is anticipating transferring roughly $2 million per year from its general fund to its capital projects fund. If things go as planned, Parente said, the money should be available by the time the bills come due.
“Each year we’ve been transferring approximately $2 million to the capital projects fund,” Parente said. “All the money is not in the capital projects fund — what we’re targeting is to continue those transfers through the fiscal year ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19 to generate money sufficient for both these projects.”
Parente said the county hopes to have construction under way by early next summer, with an eye on having work completed by June 2018. Parente said the other suggestions made by William Tao after the preliminary study that were left out of this project could be undertaken at a later date.