July 8, 2015

New approach for courthouse project

By Daniel Arens

The Mercer County Commission held a special meeting Thursday, July 2, with Pete Filippi, Contegrity Group, and Scott Fettig, Klein McCarthy Architects, to discuss the current standing of the courthouse and jail expansion project.
The meeting was held the day after the regular county commission meeting, in which the commission discussed additional fees that would have to be paid to the architects. These architects would have to redesign the original expansion proposal in order to bring it into line with the “Option 2” decision the commission previously adopted. This option scaled back various sections of the project in order to attempt to bring costs from roughly $11.5 million closer to the $9.8 million originally approved.
The fees that would be paid to incorporate the redesign seemed to be a step backwards to the commissioners. Because they are primarily interested in reducing costs, it doesn’t make sense to pay money in order to do so. The commissioners asked Filippi and Fettig what policy would be best to adopt to get the most bang for their buck.
“I still think the best bang for your buck is to go back out with the plan you have in place. . .and at the same time do what we can to put it out at a more favorable time,” said Filippi. Both Filippi and Fettig stressed that the commission had to determine what they want the project to be before Filippi and Fettig could move forward on any other question.
There are many unknown variables involved as well. Several categories of the original project were never bid by any contractor, the inflation of values over time has to be accounted for, and rebidding at a more favorable time could reduce costs. Even if bids are favorable, however, the total cost will not be $9.8 million.
The commissioners agreed that it was likely best to stick with the original design.

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