GAINESVILLE - Hall County Commissioners reversed a Monday decision to table consideration of an architecture services contract for the new corrections institute after hearing from Warden Walt Davis Thursday night.
The new institute, with a total $4-million price tag, is a 'go' with the commission's unanimous vote to approve up to $248,000 for the design.
Davis told commissioners the county is getting a lot of money-saving equipment and labor from the state, plus a well-known state-approved contractor.
"I met Tuesday with the Commissioner of Corrections and his two deputy commissioners, "Davis said. "They have pledged support of mobile inmate construction crews, that's free labor to the county. They bring their own equipment, they will do all the site preparation, they will do the foundation and all the block work, erosion control and clean-up on the site."
Davis added that he has a list of equipment that the State Department of Corrections is giving Hall County that fits into the new institute's design.
"I have a $100,000 cooler and a $100,000 freezer and they're donating several hundred thousand dollars worth of free equipment to us that will offset our cost," Davis said.
Davis said the electrical, plumbing, and roofing would be done by a contractor so the county would have the work under warranty.
"IPG, the company we've chosen, is on contract with the state and has been for several years and they've done really good work," according to Davis. "The normal rate on a contract like this would be eight and a half to nine percent of the total construction cost and we're getting this at six percent. That does not seem like a big difference but on a multi-million dollar project that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars."
Davis projected a 12 month completion date on a site next to the old facility on Barber Road. Commissioner Billy Powell said that he wanted to serve with Commissioner Scott Gibbs on a project oversight committee.
"That's so that when we have periodic construction meetings we have input representing the Commission and we also can provide feedback to the Commission until the project is completed."
Commissioner Craig Lutz made the motion based on Powell's request and it was also approved.
NEW RISK MANAGER APPROVED
Commissioners agreed to hire a new risk manager for the county's Human Resources Department; the position has been vacant for seven years. HR Director Bill Moats said insurance companies are not going to give the county a decent quote for Workmen's Compensation coverage until it's filled.
"The reasoning was because we did not have someone that was managing our loss," Moats told commissioners. "We didn't have anyone here who was helping with Workmen's Comp or doing any training or monitoring claims. One of our issues is not having someone dedicated to Worker's Comp, safety or accident prevention."
Moats said he has an experienced employee who could take the job and the cost savings from a lower experience rating would pay the salary.
MECUM SAYS HALL NEEDS TO PLAN
Commission Chairman Dick Mecum says he believes the biggest issue for 2014 is planning for a fast moving future.
Mecum previewed his State of the County address he's expected to deliver Saturday morning at the Hall Republican Party's Conservative Forum at Denny's Restaurant on Browns Bridge Road.
"That's my thing now," Mecum said. "We're going to have to plan, get our strategic plans together as to what we're going to do, how we're going to address it and where we're going to be in 20 or 30 years. Everything is going to come at us and it's going to come at us rapidly over the next few years. I think right now we need to plan for that and get ready."
Mecum observed that the county is in sound financial shape to begin the New Year, with increasing revenues and spending below the budget.
"We're about five percent under budget through the second quarter and we're about 11 percent over our projected revenues right now but that may change as the year goes on," Mecum observed. "We're seeing some positive changes, not great, but they're moving in the right direction."