|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - September 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Courthouse budget remains in ‘the black’
Trinity Standard -
Courthouse budget remains in ‘the black’ GROVETON – Despite more than expected changes and added costs over the past year, the budget for the courthouse renovation project remains in “the black.” During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity County commissioners, project architect Michael Gaertner said he is projecting that when the work is finished, the county will have about $225,000 left from the $1.6 million it borrowed to fund its share of the project. “That includes all of the change orders that have been approved in the past and all of the ones that we know will be coming in the future,” he said. At present, the renovation is scheduled to be “substantially complete” by mid January 2011. Substantial completion means that while some work will still be underway, the county can move back into the building. While the county borrowed $1.6 million to fund its 20 percent share of the courthouse work, most of the money is coming from the a Texas Historical Commission (THC) Courthouse Preservation Grant. Initially, the state awarded the county $5 million for the project – which was the maximum amount available. When the bids for the work came in much lower than expected -- $4.7 million – the state reduced it grant by $300,000 in order to put the “excess” money back into its grant program for other projects. At that time, Gaertner told commissioners that should the county later need the additional $300,000, the THC would replace it. Earlier this summer, changes made to the original renovation contract added more costs than expected and almost depleted the project’s contingency fund. Gaertner told commissioners Monday that THC officials have agreed to match $119,000 more of those changes – many of which they requested be made. The architect said there would be additional changes made to the renovation plan before the project is completed. “We know they are coming, we know what they are, we just don’t have a firm cost yet,” he told commissioners. “Even with those change orders in mind, I am projecting that you will have about $225,000 left when the building is completed.” Trinity County Judge Mark Evans noted that any money left over from the $1.6 million the county borrowed must either be spent on the courthouse or be used to retire the debt. He indicated the commissioners plan to use a portion of the money to pay for landscaping costs on the courthouse grounds, something that the THC grant will not cover. During the meeting, the commissioners approved three more change orders, which added an additional $36,757 to the project’s cost. Gaertner said those costs were included when he made his $225,000 projection. He noted that two of the changes – totaling $15,757 – would be matched by the state, while the third for $21,000 would not. One change called for different hardware to be used on attic and basement doors and added $1,957 to the contract. The second was for additional masonry work on the roof parapets for $13,800. The third change involved the building’s security system. The architect explained THC would match up to $20,000 in this area – a figure that was included in the original renovation bid -- but the system that local officials wanted would total $41,000. “The county would have to pay the additional $21,000 of the cost,” he said. Gaertner and Evans both told commissioners that the system selected from Guardian Security was reviewed by a number of local officials, including the bailiffs for both district courts. It will include a number of internal and external cameras and several panic buttons. The cameras would be monitored by the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department while the panic buttons would actually transmit a radio message to law enforcement officers. The cameras would be located throughout the courthouse, including in the new elevator. “It’s a changing world and I guess we really need this kind of thing today,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham said. “We’ve been lucky for a long time because we haven’t had a security system in the past.” “Yes, but there have been times that it would have come in handy,” Evans added. In his report to commissioners about the status of the project, Gaertner said the work is now about 45 percent complete and is about to kick into “high gear.” He noted that once the refurbished window frames and new roof are installed, a lot of the interior work would proceed at a rapid pace. He noted that the building sprinkler system is about 98 percent complete and only needs to be tested. “The elevator platform and elevator doors are installed and working. The elevator cage has not yet been finished,” the architect said. Overall, he said the county has been billed about $2.9 million by the contractor to date with about $2.4 million in bills yet to come. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Approved the holiday schedule for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Holidays that the county will take include Veterans Day, Nov. 11; Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-26; Christmas, Dec. 23-24; New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, 2011; President’s Day, Feb. 21, 2011; Texas Independence Day, March 2, 2011; Good Friday, April 22, 2011; Memorial Day, May 30, 2011; Independence Day, July 4, 2011; and Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2011. In addition, each county employee will be given their birthday as a holiday. •Approved a lease agreement with East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System that will allow the county to use a radio transmission tower erected by the medical corporation off FM 355 south of Groveton. The county would have to pay a $25 per month electrical fee. It was noted that the new tower was recently put into service by ETMC and by using it, the county hopes to improve the radio reception by sheriff’s deputies in southeastern Trinity County • Renewed the interlocal agreement with the City of Groveton that allows Worsham to maintain the city’s streets. The city will continue to pay the county $2,900 per month for the street maintenance service. • Renewed the county’s liability and automobile insurance policies with the Texas Association of Counties. • Issued order lifting the countywide ban on all outdoor burning that was put into place on Aug. 30. • Approved returning $842.21 to Terry M. Carlton for the overpayment of his property taxes. • Held a public hearing and then adopted a 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on Holmes Road in Precinct 4 from FM 2781 to its dead-end. No one spoke about the speed limit during the brief public hearing. • Adopted the schedule of fees for the sheriff’s department and constables to us for the service of civil papers. The fees were unchanged from last year. • Appointed the nine-member salary grievance committee from the list of those who served on the county’s two 2010 grand juries. They included Greg Campbell, Leroy Brown, Dr. Frank Thornton, Lawrence Small, Pamela Navarre, Danny Gearhart, Mark Jeffery, Charlotte Y’Barbo and Glenda Schanfish. Alternates selected were Darrell Forest and Tracy Waddell. • Approved as resolution designating September as National Senior Center Month in Trinity County. Evans noted that September is a fitting month because on Friday, Sept. 17, the county is scheduled to awards bids that will place large electrical generators in all three of the county’s senior centers. Funded as part of Round One of the Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund, senior center generators will enable the facilities in Trinity, Groveton and Apple Springs to remain in service should there be an extended power outage similar to the ones that occurred after hurricanes Rita and Ike.