Courthouse costs debated

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

At a December meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, costs associated with the new Charlotte County Courthouse were questioned.

In August, Skanska’s Project Manager Tim Burge revealed costs for the new courthouse exceeded the original $13.9 million budget by $125,000.

County Administrator Daniel Witt said he has compiled a document to finalize the courthouse project and has been meeting with individual board members throughout last week.

He said his plan was to meet and answer any questions to alleviate confusion.

During the December meeting of the Supervisors, Witt said, “the only thing that should be left by Christmastime or before Christmas is part of the lights, they were three weeks out on ordering those … “

Witt said he would have final numbers, but according to what he looked at the Courthouse project should come in $5,000 under the $14.25 million budget.

“I’ll have those for sure,” he said.

He said there was $22,000 in liquidated damages.

“Glave and Holmes (Architects) sent back money that we had issued a check and they gave the county about $9,000. Skanska did not charge the county for a month or two, or more of services, so, but I’ll have a final dollar amount …” Witt said.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said she reviewed county bills from August through November and the county has spent $33,300 with Skanska and $20,528.69 with Glave and Holmes.

She said since the county took occupancy in the new courthouse, that was a total of $53,828.69 spent.

Pierantoni said Burge blamed the overage on citizens, however, the exit signs in the Clerk’s Office were not up to building code.

She questioned why Skanska or Glave and Holmes did not catch the error.

Pierantoni also said soundproofing around doors at the courthouse was another error that was not caught.

Witt said Blair is working on the exit signs, working to install sound seals, repairing the lift at the judge’s bench and replacing the front doors.

In addition, the replacement of glass was also slated to be done and light fixtures for J&D court have been ordered and are waiting on arrival, he said.

“So to now say that we’re going to come in $5,000 under budget … until we get close out documents, Blair (Construction) agreed to pay $250 a day …” Pierantoni said.

She said $22,000 did not cut it if the county did not have close out documents, because the clock should still be running.

Witt said the closeout documents have been submitted to the architect, so liquidated damages stopped as of Nov. 30.

“What are they spending money on?” Pierantoni asked. “And if it is for the lack of water pressure, that’s their problem. We talked about that. They need to be paying that”

In August, Burge said low water pressure at the courthouse was still a concern.

“I received an emailed from the engineer yesterday. He said they still think there’s a valve closed …” he said at that time. “I disagree,” said Burge. “But, I’m not an engineer. I think I have a solution, but I’m not an engineer.”

Pierantoni predicted next month would see an influx of bills to the county.

“This is not acceptable …” she said.

Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett, Jr. also noted the heat in the building was not working at the beginning of the month.

He said it was his understanding that the temperature in the building was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Now this should have already been checked out by somebody …” said Hamlett.

He said he had received several phone calls.

Witt said the system was under warranty.

“It’s a high technology computerized system …,” he said. “Apparently when the power went off and kicked back on, they haven’t been able to fix it yet.”

Witt said at that time, it was being worked on it and a computer chip had burned out.

He said there were kinks in the systems that needed to be worked through.

Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore said a lot of money has been paid since September, yet the same problems are still being dealt with.

“The water pressure, the lights, now the heating …” she said.

“I actually think this may warrant a special meeting to be frank and get this out in the open and figure out what the heck is going on,” said Fore.

Pierantoni said the numbers came directly from Charlotte County Finance Director Norma Tuck. Witt said he received his numbers from Tuck as well.

He said the only thing Skanska did not account for was any interest accrued.

Pierantoni said there must be some large bills out. She said hundreds of thousands of dollars are not accounted for.

Fore said this is unacceptable to the taxpayers.

“We’re not being good stewards of the taxpayers money,” she said.

“I agree that you are accountable for the taxpayers,” Witt said.

See the Jan. 2nd edition of The Charlotte Gazette for a follow up on this issue.