After the first law enforcement center bids came in considerably over budget, the county board met to figure out where to go from here.


 


After taking a closer look at the bids coming in for the Redwood County Law Enforcement Center project, the Redwood County board met Monday morning with its architect, project manager and representatives from the sheriff’s department to talk about what steps to take next.

The general consensus of those at the meeting was to take a step back and reevaluate the project as a whole.

Does that mean scrapping the work done to this point? 

No.

Rather it means taking a good, hard look at the project as it exists today and finding ways to work within that proposal to come up with a plan that meets the needs of law enforcement and the courts.

As part of the meeting, a couple of suggestions were raised to help reduce the costs, including eliminating the link from the LEC to the courthouse, which would cut out about 3,000 square feet from the project.

Unfortunately, that still leaves about 5,000 square feet of space to be cut to help get the project within budget.

There were other ideas offered from reducing the number of security cameras on the courthouse campus to opening up the specifications on the HVAC controls being added to the project.

The budget as it currently exists would allow for approximately $4 million to do the work for this project, which includes funds set aside for boiler and elevator improvements in the courthouse. That $4 million includes what remains from the $7 million the board approved for the overarching project that included the LEC, the courthouse and the newly remodeled government center.

The bids which came in exceeded the project budget by more than $1.5 million, which Commissioner Al Kokesch added did not include any architect and management fees or funds for contingency.

The bottom line, said Mike Kearns of CAM, whose company is overseeing the project, is the estimates which came in were wrong.

The assumption was the bids would be more competitive because companies are looking for work, adding breaking down the project into 12 areas, it was thought, would help reduce costs over the issues the board saw with one major bid for the government center.

“It was a culmination of a lot of different items,”?said Kearns, adding in general the bids that came in were good, but some of them, especially in the mechanical and electrical categories came in higher than anyone anticipated.

Commissioner John Schueller proposed putting the sheriff’s department in the courthouse as a way to address the square footage needs, but Randy Hanson, county sheriff, said he didn’t think separating the sheriff’s department from dispatch and the jail portions of the department was a good idea. Hanson suggested the board take that big step back and re-evaluate the project as a whole.

Board members Lon Walling and Gary Dahms agreed with that idea, adding there is really no rush and putting the brakes on the project for a while would allow the new county commissioner to get up to speed.

The board has 45 days from the bid opening to accept or reject the bids, and, according to Vicki Knobloch, county administrator, that topic is going to be on the agenda for its meeting Tuesday.

Until then, the building committee is going to continue meeting with its architect and construction manager to develop solutions that help this project move forward.

The board agreed while it was a good idea to take a step back, it did not want to stop the project’s momentum for the future.