Courthouse project comes under budget

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The new Charlotte County courthouse project has finished under budget, according to Skanka’s Project Manager Tim Burge.

According to Burge, the project budget was $14.25 million and was finished $4,797.26 under the budget.

During the month of December, Burge said Blair Contractors worked on change orders that were late after the substantial completion.

At a January meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, he said that work is almost complete, however the light fixtures in the Juvenile and Domestic (J&D) Relations Courtroom still need to be hung once they arrive.

In addition, Glave and Holmes completed their review of the closeout documents and approved Blair’s final two payouts.

Burge said the retention pond remains to be filled.

“We had to put a retention pond in when we built the project to catch the runoff water,” said Burge.

He said grass had to be established before the pond could be filled in.

When the grass came in after this summer, the pond was able to be filled in, however, the weather has not cooperated, according to Burge.

He said it must dry out first.

Red Oak/Wylliesburg Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said, “when you came to us, it was … told all along that it was on budget and everything was going along smooth, and I even went back to like December 2017 … there was rain that slowed up things and bad weather, but to be here a year later and we still don’t have things completed … “

She said it is the last bitter pill for the taxpayers to swallow.

Pierantoni said lights for the J&D courtroom were estimated in August to cost $5,000, however, are now costing over $18,000.

“I went and looked at the J&D courtroom yesterday (Jan. 8) and … my first thought was can bulbs be changed because it is subdued lighting for a J&D courtroom,” said Pierantoni during the January Supervisor’s meeting.

She said it was not all on Skanska, but it was also on Glave and Holmes Architects who was paid $1.5 million.

“Again, I’m not trying to air dirty laundry, I just think if we don’t understand what went wrong on this project we maybe won’t pay attention on other projects,” said Pierantoni. “It is unfortunate that with as much as everybody knew how concerned we were about the money, that the last thing that’s being installed is $18,000 worth of light fixtures in a room that already has lights.”

She said she went back and looked at the invoice and over $9,000 is for materials and over $3,500 for labor.

The total markup is over $1,500, the total overhead is just under $2,000 and Blair construction marked it up over $1,500, according to Pierantoni.

“So just think about that, wrap your brain around that … the last thing we’re buying is four lights in a courtroom that already has lights …”said Pierantoni.

She said half of the $18,000 figure is installation and markups.

“Yes the job was completed, these light fixtures came after the project was completed by the judge. A judge requested them,” said Burge.

He said the lighting was tested by architects and engineers who said the lighting was enough, however the judge disagreed.

“It was not our choice to put the lights in” said Burge. “The judge said you will put them in …”

Pierantoni said the judge asked for improved lighting, not $18,000 worth.

“I agree that seems a lot of money,” said Burge. “But, to meet the aesthetics of the rest of the building that is the solution …”

He said he presented the cost previously and while it was wrong, he had contingency to cover the cost.

“It came back, the Board approved the additional cost and so we … will be installing them as soon as they get here …” said Burge.

Pierantoni said she also noticed a couple of invoices where taxes were paid on.

“We were doing owner-direct purchase for items that save a lot of money on the project … the owner did not have to pay tax, but to get $400, the paperwork at this point in the game, there is a lot of paperwork that you do have to do … so is it really worth the county people, contractors, everyone spending a day or two on it and then you only get $400 …” said Burge.

He said he targeted items that could be advantageous to the county and get the most out of the owner-direct purchase.

As of Jan. 9 the lights had not arrived and had not been installed.

Pierantoni said there is also a hole in the front door of the building right underneath the lock.

“As far as the hole goes, the door was pre-drilled from the factory. Those doors were just replaced (and) is going to be repaired and taken care …”

He said the repair was slated to occur last week.

However, Burge also said $6,000 is currently being held on the bill until the pond and installation of light fixtures is completed.

Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore also asked what happened to previous water pressure problems at the new courthouse.

“Were there a few leaks inside the building? …” she asked.

“After the project was completed we had no issues when it was completed, at some point some caulking failed somewhere. They came in, they repaired it … said Burge.

He said about two weeks ago water leaking came up and was repaired.

“And that’s why you have warranty …” said Burge.

He said the leaks were not there when it was completed, however, they came after.

In addition, Burge said research was done on the water pressure and the solution came up a pressure tank was needed.

“(The) Contractor installed the pressure tank without any cost to the owner …” he said.

The water problem was fixed, according to Burge.

“I personally am very unhappy as a taxpayer myself …” said Fore.