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[December 21, 2012]
County Commission approves $546,000 bid to renovate east probate/revenue offices
Dec 21, 2012 (Montgomery Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Montgomery County Commission has approved awarding a $546,590 bid to a Prattville-based construction company to renovate rental space for the east probate and revenue offices.
The 4-1 vote came nearly a year after the original lease for the rental space was signed last February. District 3 Republican Dimitri Polizos was the only commissioner to vote against the expenditure.
The five-year lease with the East Montgomery Investment Co. will allow the east probate and revenue offices, currently housed together at 5340 Atlanta Highway, to move to a bigger, more accessible building across the street at 5449 Atlanta Highway.
The project was delayed for months because of high renovation-cost estimates. Initial estimates were more than $600,000, and county commissioners worked with the architect to change materials and prioritize work in an effort to bring the cost down.
In August, the commission capped the cost of the project at $289,700 -- the last estimate before the project was bid. The lowest bid was from CannDauson Construction Co. Inc. for $511,340, which doesn't include necessary alternative bids for things such as data cabling and a firewall. The total cost of the project will be $546,590.
The commission also approved an amendment to the lease with the company stipulating that the county will be reimbursed for about $30,400 in tenant improvements to the property.
John Mitchell, deputy administrator of the County Commission, said the county will save about $10,000 in sales tax and up to 10 percent -- or $54,659 -- using a method known as value engineering.
Value engineering involves county administrators working with the architect as the renovations are being done to see if savings can be achieved by changing work orders, Mitchell said. An example would be building a particular wall from the ground to the ceiling instead of from the ground to the roof, he added.
"There are so many different things that, once you get into it, you can look at to start saving money," Mitchell said.
The county is required to stay within 10 percent of the bid amount by law. Mitchell said it'll be easy to achieve 3 percent to 4 percent savings through this method, but the county likely will save between 5 and 10 percent.
The county also can save about $10,000 in sales tax by using a different method to pay the general contractor, Mitchell said. Instead of giving CannDauson the whole bid amount and letting it pay the subcontractors and vendors, the county will pay the vendors directly for the material.
Because the county is exempt from paying sales tax on materials for building projects, it won't have to pay for the sales tax that's included in the bid, which means a savings on the materials of about $100,000, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said structuring the payments this way is complicated and usually only happens with large projects.
"If you're not achieving a remarkable savings, it's just wasting man hours," he said.
The lowest estimated cost of the project for the county is $451,514, which means the savings could be as much as $95,076.
The base bid for the facility renovations is $482,795. The fire protection sprinkler system, which is being paid for by the landlord, is $28,545.
The alternative bids that the county is opting to pay for includes data cabling for communication for $26,202, an employee bathroom for $5,866 and a test and balance report for the heating and cooling system for $1,310.
The estimated completion date is April 26 of next year, according to a letter from Brown Chambless Architects, the firm that has worked with the county on the project, The probate and revenue offices have to vacate the space they're currently in by April 30 so Faulkner University, which owns the space, can make renovations for the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Service can move in.
The commission signed a new five-year lease in August with Faulkner for the same space. The university agreed to make renovations to the space at no up-front cost to the county, Mitchell said. Some of the cost is incorporated into the county's lease.
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