Special meeting set to discuss communications building

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


A special session for the Washington County Board of Supervisors to discuss the bond referendum to build the proposed communications building will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27, in the Washington County Board chambers to further discuss the estimated cost of the building.

During the regular meeting Tuesday, the supervisors were scheduled to consider a resolution to set the date for the construction bond referendum during the November election. It was reported the high estimated cost of the building would be about $3 million, which was the amount to be put on the resolution. The resolution was tabled until the supervisors? Aug. 28 meeting, just a day before the last day the resolution can be filed, when supervisor Abe Miller said he wanted more clarification on the proposed cost of the building.

?I was hoping to have a more professional opinion,? Miller said. ?We do have one more week to consider this.?

Architects will be present at the meeting to discuss their estimates of the cost of the building.

Supervisor Jack Seward reported that according to architects, the proposed building, to be constructed at Orchard Hill, would cost around $3 million. Seward said last week he met with the architects. Originally, based on the items requested by the communications department and the sheriff?s office, the construction of a 8,900 square foot building was $4 million. Seward said they had immediately began ?fine tuning? the requirements. The square footage was dropped to 6,800. Seward said construction, with the building being constructed to FEMA-suggested guidelines, is estimated to be between $350 to $450 per square foot.

?We don?t have any hard plans,? Seward said. ?We don?t have any definite hard numbers or bids from contractors, but at this point the best we can probably be is the high estimate.?

He questioned why Miller wanted to speak with the architects, saying he had done extensive work with the architects and they would say the same things he had briefed the board on. Miller stressed the need for professional input, saying the board is dealing with taxpayer money.

During discussion, supervisor Richard Young said the county has been working on the project for about 18 years. He said the project needs to move forward.

Seward said if an exact amount was wanted for the bond referendum, the board should have started planning the project six months to a year earlier than it did. He said the hope is the county will not have to actually bond for all the money it is given authority to bond for.

?In order to get this project going and in order to keep this project going this is the step we need to take,? Seward said. ?This is the best estimate for what it is going to take without being over the top. We need to keep working to drive the needs down and drive the estimates down to reach the goal. That goal is a totally renovated communications system.?