LS3P contract approved – again

Published 10:29 am Friday, November 11, 2011

GATESVILLE – A contract approved and put into effect last month for architectural design services for the new Gates County Library was apparently signed prematurely.

After a lengthy discussion over the matter at the Nov. 2 meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners, a revised version of a contract with LS3P, the Raleigh-based architects for the library, was approved following an apology from board chairman Graham Twine for placing his signature on the first document.

Following the same lines as the Oct. 5 board meeting where the contract was originally approved, the vote to proceed was 3-2. Twine, along with Vice Chairman Kenneth Jernigan and Commissioner Jack Owens, voted to expend an additional $96,000 to LS3P. Those funds will continue  the company’s schematic design services, taking the project through full construction documents, to include permits and approvals, the bidding process, construction contract administration and project close-out.

The overall contract, which now totals $159,644.23, calls for the construction project and close-out to be completed within an 18-month period.

Commissioners Henry Jordan and John Hora voted against the revised contract.

Hora brought the matter back up while the board was in the process of approving the minutes of their last several meetings. He said that during the Oct. 5 meeting there was discussion, mainly by Jordan, over noted deficiencies of the contract. He said the minutes from that meeting reflect that a motion was made and approved to go forth with the contract as presented.

“Do you sign that contract, Graham,” Hora asked.

“Yes sir I did,” Twine replied.

“You signed the contract with the flaws in it we discussed,” Hora said.

“Yes sir, but there was no motion made to change the contract,” Twine noted. “Henry, you can be part of this, you were notified of the deficiencies to look at them.”

“I sent a list of the deficiencies I noted to the county manager,” Jordan stated. “I asked the county manager to talk with our attorney about this and he got with LS3P and they made corrections. Some they agreed with and some they took exception, but they fixed a number of them and the contract was modified.”

“So we did modify the contract. So the contract we voted on is null and void; what should we do,” Hora asked.

“We will stop that contract at this point. After these minutes are approved we can vote on the new contract,” Twine suggested.

“I’d like to see that contract before it is voted on,” Hora said. “In the future when we modify a contract we need to follow the process by bringing it back to the board and follow the proper procedures. This was done incorrectly. We did something that was illegal.”

“I would like to apologize to the board for that,” Twine said. “I was under the impression when the motion was made it addressed the concerns Henry made. We will make an effort to correct this right now.”

“I would like to have plenty of time to review this (revised) contract,” Hora stressed.

After a brief break the commissioners readdressed the LS3P contract and the changes made from the original document.

“LS3P addressed all of these items; there were a couple I wasn’t too happy with, but I guess it’s about as good as we’re going to get. I’m not going to challenge this any further,” Jordan said after a copy of the revised contract was handed to each commissioner.

“Toby (Chappell, county manager), when the contract was revised, you looked it over,” asked Owens.

“Yes,” Chappell answered.

“Pitt, did you review the contract after it was modified,” Hora inquired of Pitt Godwin, legal counsel to the board.

“No, we just went over the corrections,” Godwin said.

Hora then addressed an article published in last week’s Index (New library: Q&A), referencing a statement made that state statutes require government agencies to follow certain procedures when it comes to constructing public buildings.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you were told that you must follow this process; this is absolutely false,” Hora alleged. “You don’t have to follow this contracting for design services. North Carolina general statute 143-6431, commonly known as the Mini-Brooks Act, requires local governments to use a qualified base selection process when hiring architectural, engineering, survey or management at risk regardless of the contract amount.”

Hora said the statute he referenced allowed local governments to exempt themselves from the qualified base selection process for particular projects. He said many local governments do this by approving a resolution.

“We’re wasting, all in all, about $130,000 (on LS3P services),” Hora claimed. “This is not a project that requires a rocket scientist to do. This is a library. We can exempt ourselves, we don’t have to do this. This is a terrible waste of taxpayer money. All you have to have is a certified engineer’s drawing for about $5,000. The design-build will work.”

“Commissioner Hora brought up some issues, but the exemption in the Mini-Brooks Act is in reference to procurement of an architect/engineer, it is does not exempt you from whether you have to have an architect or engineer,” Chappell said. “I will say in clear and emphatic terms that the exemption from the Mini-Brooks Act is whether you procure or not, not whether you need one or not, which are two totally different terms. You (Hora) are confusing two distinct terms.”

Twine again apologize for this issue being brought up again, stating that he thought the LS3P contract he signed was the one covering the changes that Jordan was interested in.

“I would like to have time to review this (revised contract) before we move forward with it,” Hora said.

Twine asked the board would they like to wait or move forward with the revised contract.

Jordan said he was okay with the issue either way, approving it immediately or awaiting a few days to allow for thorough review and conducting a vote by telephone on Monday (Nov. 7).

“From now until Monday should give us sufficient time to review this,” Owens said.

“I find it comical, but anyhow, I’m not going through the formality of wasting time ‘til Monday,” Hora noted. “Regardless of what I say, it obviously doesn’t make any difference. We’re head strong enough that we’re going to move forward regardless of the situation. So, let’s do it now. You guys are going to do what you want, it’s your baby.”

“Considering Mr. Hora’s comments, I say let’s move forward,” Jernigan said.

Owens motioned for the approval of the contract as amended. After Hora asked for the amended contract to be reviewed by Godwin, Jernigan seconded the motion, which carried by a 3-2 vote.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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