County OKs justice center maximum price

Seneca County commissioners passed a resolution to approve the guaranteed maximum price for phase two of joint justice center construction during their meeting Tuesday morning.

The resolution must be approved by the Seneca County Prosecutor’s Office.

At a Joint Justice Center Executive Core Team meeting last month, representatives from Gilbane Construction, the construction manager at-risk for the project, unveiled a figure of $12.8 million for construction costs, with an additional $2.6 million slated for soft costs — which include architectural, engineering, financing and legal fees. That number included some special features to the building.

The $15.4 million was about $1 million higher than initial projections, but Commissioner Mike Kerschner assured residents  the project was not $1 million over budget, since there were  options to bring down the cost and raise funds, including access to a $500,000, interest-free loan.

After further discussion, the team decided to remove the furniture, fixtures and equipment cost of $615,000 from the budget, and pay it at a later date.

The idea from several members of the core team was that by paying those expenses later, it would allow them a chance to pull money from contingency funds that had not been used to cover  unforeseen costs.

Tuesday morning, County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the final guaranteed maximum price proposal from Gilbane for construction costs was lowered to $11,965,844.

Adding soft costs would put the project total at about $14.57 million.

Kerschner said including the cost for fixtures, furniture and equipment makes the overall price for the second phase about $15.185 million.

Several other cost-saving measures are being discussed by the joint executive core team, including termination of a contract with Quandel, the owners’ representative for the project. Kerschner said  the team could save more than $100,000 and reallocate responsibilities to Gilbane and county staff.

The measure cannot be approved without approval from the city of Tiffin and from city and county judges. Each entity has one vote.

Judge Michael Kelbley said at the core team meeting last week that the judges would not vote without consulting with Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court Judge Mark Repp, who could not be at the meeting. Kelbley said judges planned to meet Tuesday afternoon.

In another matter, commissioners discussed a proposal from the legal counsel for the owner of Hoperoy’s Hallmark Shoppe, 77 S. Washington St. The county owns the building and previously announced plans to move the county board of elections into the space when the store’s lease expires Dec. 31.

Kerschner said the proposal was for the county to waive November and December rent payments, which are about $1,694 per month, and pay moving expenses up to $5,000.

Commissioners said they did not feel comfortable paying moving expenses.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller proposed allowing Hoperoy’s to remain in operation until Jan. 14 and waiving rent for November, December and half of January.

He said legislation would need to specify that the owner would be  liable for all rent payments if the building is not in county possession by Jan. 16.

“I feel we’ve been more than reasonable,” Kerschner said.

Board president Holly Stacy said commissioners would ask the prosecutor’s office to draft an agreement and would speak with the owner’s attorney.

Stacy said the building would take about three months to renovate  for the board of elections. She also said the board of elections did not want to move in until after the May primary election.

Commissioners went into executive session to discuss personnel. When they returned, they opened a bid for renovation of the first floor of 79 S. Washington St.

Wilson said two bids were received for the project, which is to clear space for the Seneca County Victim Assistance Program  office.

Stacy said victims assistance is in limited space separated from the prosecutor’s office.

Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said people often have problems finding the office and he looked forward to it being moved to the first floor of the same building that holds the prosecutor’s office.

Wilson said the base bid from Clouse Construction of New Riegel  was $141,765. She said the base bid from RJ Runge Co. of Port Clinton was $133,220.

Alternatives are offered in both bid packages to give the county flexibility to cut costs.

In new business, the board approved:

• An $18,977.21 appropriation adjustment for the Soil and Water Conservation District.

• A $3,500 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund.

• A $50,000 appropriation adjustment within the M&R Fund.

• A $3,235 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund.

• A $15,000 fund advance repayment from the VOCA Expansion Grant Fund to the General Fund.

• A $6,927 supplemental appropriation to the Real Estate Assessment Fund.

• Bill vouchers.