Board approves extension

Published 8:56 am Thursday, March 5, 2015

WINTON – As the delay in completion of the new Hertford County Courthouse and Government Center continues, the county’s Board of Commissioners at their regular monthly meeting here Monday voted to approve additional architectural oversight on the project.

“This is the third additional services agreement that is put before you,” said County Manager Loria Williams. “Heretofore, we’ve spent about $88,000 additional dollars in architectural fees.  These funds are not just sitting there, we’ve paid the architects.”

County Attorney Charles Revelle said the extension carries the agreement between the county and Ware Bonsall Architects of Charlotte through another 47 “anticipated” days.

Back during its Dec. 15 meeting the Commissioners unanimously approved an Authorization of Change in Services for the completion of the project in the amount of nearly $50,870 due to incompletion by the contractor, forcing a need for additional oversight from the architects.

Williams added that the county has withheld liquidated damages in the amount of $165,000, thus far; but that amount might be re-assessed as of a meeting with the general contractors, A.R. Chesson, expected for later this week.

“If there are additional dollars that we need to withhold from that pay application, then we will do so,” Williams informed the Board. “This increase in services can be covered with those funds that are being withheld.”

Commissioner Curtis Freeman inquired if the engineers are being paid out of the allocated amount, and Williams answered that they were.

“So that’s no more money out of the budget,” Freeman asked.

“That’s what liquidated damages are for,” Williams replied. “They’re there to cover the anticipated cost because of the delay.”

Williams said that with this additional service the county would be at roughly two-thirds the liquidated damages amount available.

Freeman also inquired about where the money would come from for the new furniture as well as the moving of current furniture for the new facility. New Day Office Products and Furnishings, Inc. is the contracted supplier for the purchase of furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the new Hertford County Courthouse and Government Center Project.  He was told it would not come out of liquidated damages.

The furniture storage, according to Williams, will come out of consequential damages, but agreed to discuss this further with the Board in closed session.  There was a chance, she stated, that some of those fees could be recouped. She estimated the county was out of approximately $20,000 in consequential damages from furniture storage.

Commissioner Ronald Gatling asked outright what the reason was for so many completion delays.

Williams replied that she had no ready answer for the Board but that it was strictly her perspective that it was a combination of circumstances ranging from over-scheduling on the part of the contractors on completing the construction of over 56,000 square feet of space.

“Courthouses are pretty complex with all of the different provisions going into that particular facility,” she said.

The County Manager further surmised the delay might also have been due to the intricate nature of the mechanical systems.

“There biggest problem was their electrical subcontractor which they removed from the project, but they wasted too much time and they had to go back and find all the deficiencies and poor work that was performed by that sub,” Williams explained. “To come in and work behind that and troubleshoot has just made it difficult for them.  Without that you can’t move forward on things like closing your ceilings if your electrical components are not in, it holds up so many other aspects of the project.”

She reminded the board that these were just her assessments but they probably weren’t far off in speculation.

“Right now,” she added, “we’re just in the throes of weather, which presents its own set of issues, such as the parking lot. And there are still some internal issues to be resolved.”

Williams reminded the Commissioners that the contractors were already past the Feb. 16 deadline and that the architects request would have been presented at the Feb. meeting cancelled due to the inclement weather, because their request was dated Jan. 27.

“So we’re already owing them more money,” wondered Commissioner Johnny Farmer.

As there was no further discussion, Chairman Bill Mitchell called for a motion to approve the additional payments to the architects.  Freeman made the motion, seconded by Commissioner Gary Lewter, and passed by the Board unanimously.