County commission

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Cost of courthouse work rises by $217,000

LUMBERTON - The county commissioners were asked to get out their checkbooks Monday night as renovation costs at the Robeson County Courthouse jumped by more than $200,000.
County Manager Ken Windley and Stephen Robinson, a representative of Sutton-Kennerly & Associates, the architectural firm from Greensboro handling the $1.6 million project, presented commissioners with a laundry list of needs.
Windley said the need for additional money is a result of errors in the as-built drawings of the building, which date back to the 1970s.
“What was shown there isn't what we found,” Windley said. “So we're having to do more than we expected.”
The biggest part of Monday's discussion centered around the need for a waterproofing system around the foundation of the courthouse. Robinson said the board has two options: a $25,000 partial-depth system or a $117,600 full-depth system.
“I would suggest that, since we have already dug down halfway, that you give consideration to the more expensive system,” Robinson said. “Because, if you have to come back next year or in five years to do it, the costs will be one-and-a-half or two times as much.”
The commissioners bounced back and forth between the two systems, but when the board asked Robinson about a warranty for the more expensive system, he said “there is a warranty, but I'm not sure what it is.”
That didn't sit well with Chairman Johnny Hunt.
“I'm going to ask this question because I know it's on all our minds,” Hunt said. “You're asking us to spend about $90,000 more for a system that you can't tell us what the warranty will be?”
Robinson promised to get details of a warranty and the board unanimously OK'd spending the $117,600 for the full-depth waterproofing system.
The board also approved spending $14,100 for drainage work below the surface of the foundation; $13,991 to change a 3,000-square-foot gravel portion of the basement floor to concrete; $33,000 for additional architectural and engineering costs, and $39,925 to cover increased steel costs.
Windley blamed the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the increase in steel costs.
“The USDA took a very long time to review plans for the renovations before approving our grant application,” Windley said. “So they should assume some of the responsibility for the increased costs.”
Submitted in June, the USDA didn't OK the renovation plans until nearly six months later. The board voted to request that the USDA increase its grant to help cover the additional costs.
In other action, the board:
- Recognized Harold Hunt, veterans services officer for Robeson County, for his work for the county's 9,000 veterans. His office oversees about $19.5 million in services annually.
- Approved a conditional-use permit needed by Huey and Peggy Locklear for a family cemetery in Saddletree Township. The permit will allow 10 plots on a 100-by-200-foot lot along Shannon Road in Red Springs.
- Accepted a $270,000 grant from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant's economic recovery planning and entrepreneurial assistant project. The money will be used to establish two projects in the county - one for $120,000 at Robeson Community College and the other for $150,000 at COMtech, each of which will target displaced workers and provide them with technical assistance, planning and training to help them become successful business owners.
- Heard from Lelia Jacobs, director of the Robeson County Housing Authority, that an audit showed no problems and resulted in no recommendations. Jacobs also said her budget reflected a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and 2 percent merit raise for employees.
- Created an interlocal agreement with the Public Schools of Robeson County to maintain the Shining Stars Preschool, which is housed in the Bryan Memorial Center off N.C. 72 in Lumberton.

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