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Joint Budget / Property Committee Meeting Minutes – July 27, 2023 (Approved)

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Property/Budget Committees Combined

27 July 2023


County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe stated that due to this being combined committee meetings, that both chairs had asked that he lead the discussion addressing government properties and associated costs to be incurred in repairs, refurbishments and alternative uses of the properties.  The CE asked for a motion on past minutes of each committee, with Commissioner Tracy Wilburn moving that the property minutes of 13 April 2023 be approved and with Commissioner Mathew Hopkins providing the second, the minutes were approved unanimously.  Re the budget minutes of 7 July 2023, Commissioner Mathew Hopkins moved for approval and with Commissioner Erin Curry providing the second, the minutes were approved unanimously.  The CE then asked that Commissioner Roger Reedy provide a prayer and lead the pledge.  The CE then said that he wanted each committee meeting to start with an opportunity for the public to comment on the agenda items, and with no one from the public requesting to speak, the CE moved to the first area of discussion.


Prior to asking Mr. Harvey Schwager, Director of Architecture at OHM, to provide a presentation on a proposal to the county, the CE said he would like the commissioners to either agree to fund the proposal or not.  He also mentioned a capital improvement plan previously provided, noting that it would help with planning and associated costs for the future.


The presentation consisted of a listing of local county government properties, that being 15 properties (not including school information); an assessment proposal which would include documentation, building materials and finishes, assessment of systems and components projections, cost projections (based on 5% inflation), report and presentation; would include sites, storm water, envelope, interiors, mechanical, electrical and plumbing.  The list of 15 properties was shown reduced to five properties, the five being considered in this proposal.  For a cost breakdown the following was presented:  Assessment – $26K, projections $21K, database $18K*, cost projections $26K, documentation $8K for a total of $94K.  The CE asked if the commissioners wanted to commit to the $94K, and noted that the reserve currently has $585K.  After discussion (noted below) that took place during the presentation a motion was made by Commissioner Erin Curry to approve and seconded by Commissioner Judy Pruett.  Subsequently to the motion additional discussion took place (also noted below).

Discussions both during the presentation and afterwards are as follow:  Commissioner Shelly Goolsby asked why the schools were not listed in the county owned properties.  The CE answered that the schools, driven by the School Board, will do their own assessments.  Commissioner Erin Curry questioned a previously developed transition plan and would that be used or do something else.  Mr. Schwager answered that the ADA requirements must be considered since they are a legal requirement.  Commissioner Gayle Jones asked why look at the Ambulance building (the listing of five properties that would be covered in the proposal with the ambulance facility being one of them) when plans are to look at a replacement and the EMS facility (also on the list of five) is a relatively new building.  The CE said the issues of looking at how each of those buildings will be reused would need to be considered in the assessment and Mr. Schwager also commented that this would be a roadmap for the future and would have to comply with the Tennessee codes.  Mr. Schwager also commented that the assessment would be for five years and in costing would include a 5% interest rate.  Mr. Jason Griffin, Principle/Engineering Manager at OHM, also commented that they had been considering alternatives during some of the earlier conversations.  Commissioner Gayle Jones mentioned the E-911 building which is not a county building but is funded partially with county funds.  She questioned if it could be added on to, with Jason saying no it could not.  Mr. Schwager further reiterated that building codes often get updated and the county needs to understand what they have and if those meet existing codes (if don’t meet codes of that time, then must be updated as well).   Commissioner Mathew Hopkins queried the term “database” and why it had an asterisk.  Mr. Schwager said that would be for about a month, and due to the uncertainty couldn’t give a firmer amount.  Commissioner Evan Baddour stated we have a courthouse assessment, and if we can’t do a significant number of repairs due to resource availability, why spend the dollars on additional assessment.  The CE said the decision would be part of the courthouse, but the decision requires understanding the total picture.  Commissioner Roger Reedy asked if OHM would be providing their recommended prioritization of efforts with Mr. Schwager saying they would.  Commissioner Tracy Wilburn concurred with Commissioner Baddour’s comments, noting that all won’t agree after get the results.  Commissioner Baddour noted his concern over courthouse security and that there were short term repairs that could be done quickly.  Commissioner Erin Curry said this is not an either/or situation, that the county could avoid some of the issues that are now required since some preventive efforts were not done before.   Commissioner Judy Pruett commented that the county in the past has been reluctant to spend funding so now this commission is having to deal with emergencies.  Planning has to be the first thing, she said.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins asked in regard to the database mentioned in the proposal, is it an actual database and would the county own it.  Mr. Schwager said it is currently planned as a spreadsheet, with Commissioner Hopkins saying a spreadsheet is not a database.  That a database can be updated, used for reporting, and be specific enough to understand each facility’s challenges.  Mr. Schwager said not how it was approached at this level, keeping it simple.  Commissioner David Wamble said we don’t need to pay for you to tell us what we already know, with Dr. James Lathrop saying this would be to tell us what we don’t know.  Commissioner Wamble mentioned the difficulty of commissioners voting on our newest building.  The CE mentioned the possibility of E-911 moving into the EMS building.  Commissioner Gayle Jones said there should be data from the builders on who did the EMS building.  She asked if the $94K could be broken out by building.  Mr. Schwager mentioned a planned visit in coming and touring the buildings using four days to do so.  Commissioner Baddour said he would like to table this decision with the CE saying if voted down, that OHM would have to relook the bid and that the commissioners could go back to the list of five buildings and swap out any.  Commissioner Reedy noted if tabled, has to be brought back before end of this meeting.  Commissioner Evan Baddour moved to table with Commissioner Hopkins seconding.  Commissioner asked which committee is involved in this motion with the CE answering Budget.  The motion was unanimously approved to table the decision on the $94K.


Next area of discussion the Giles County Courthouse.  Mr. Schwager mentioned there has been a smaller meeting, mentioning Commissioner Wilburn and Commissioner Erin Curry and also noting given the scope of needed effort, that everything could not be done given resources.  He mentioned must haves:  hazardous material, structural repairs, stone pointing, waterproofing, windows, and fire smoke alarms (not sprinklers).  Other needs for later:  Fire Suppression, HVAC Improvements, electrical upgrades, technology, accessibility, security and archival storage. He discussed doing the envelope problems first (exterior) and then the in-house. The must haves should move forward with schematic designs with a proposed cost of $80K NTE (not to exceed).  He further encouraged the commission to get a construction manager.  He described the overall process being the schematic design, then design development, construction design, out to bid and contract.  The CE said you would help with the information to put out the bid and Mr. Schwager said yes.  Mr. Schwager further said the construction manager would do individual bid packages, e.g., electrical.  The CE asked if the county would commit cradle to grave for a construction manager, with Mr. Schwager said he would recommend that.  For OHM they could just do fee for the first phase since there is not yet enough information on the scope.  Concerns were raised by Commissioner David Adams based on previous experience and Mr. Jason Griffin said there would be performance bonds, so issues could get resolved.  Mr. Schwager said total cost would have to be estimated later and associated with projects, and the construction manager if not satisfactory can be changed when desired, i.e., possibly in the middle of the process.  The CE said the cost of doing nothing is that we lose the courthouse, with Mr. Schwager given an example from another county of $50M to replace their courthouse.  Commissioner Gayle Jones queried the $80K NTE as only the first portion cost, with Mr. Schwager saying that OHM’s total fee would be 10% of total fee.  He recommended the construction manager be hired as an at-risk manager and would recommend one be hired immediately.  He gave a list of “duties” for the manager.  Mr. Schwager said he estimated 6 – 8 months to develop the schematic drawings, with the possibility of parallel teams one doing exterior and one interior.  Commissioner Gayle Jones asked how tough it might be to get bids for a construction manager with Mr. Schwager saying probably coming from Huntsville or Nashville due to scope.  The CE said there is $617K in reserve for this effort.  A motion by Commissioner Erin Curry seconded by Commissioner Judy was made to approve the $80K for the first phase.  Discussion:  Commissioner Evan Baddour said if committing to $80K, you will also be committing to all phases.  Commissioner Matt Rubelsky said looking at the bigger picture where are the dollars coming from; most citizens do not want an increase in taxes.  He said that the plan will only work if we know where’s the funding for this.  Ms. Beth Moore-Sumners said her experience has shown that the courthouse repairs were neglected for years.  When talking about the funding she discussed when the funds would be needed talking about several years and the general fund growing too in those years.  The CE said you would get a good bond with a good rate, balancing the delta between what you have and what you want to borrow.  In response to Commissioner Baddour’s safety concerns, the CE said a grant is being pursued for those issues.  The CE asked for a vote on the $80K NTE motion using the reserve funding.  The motion passed unanimously.


The discussion returned to the tabled motion on the $94K for five buildings (to be determined later) using the $585K reserve applicable to that type effort.  The motion passed 4 to 3, with Commissioners Gayle Jones, Evan Baddour and David Adams voting no.


Next area of discussion was on the E 911 building with both Board members Roy Griggs and Gwen Stacy discussing some of the facility challenges, such as building too small, unexpected equipment failures.  The CE noted the E911 building decision is critical.


No old or new business.  Commissioner Tracy Wilburn moved for adjournment with Commissioner Gayle Jones providing the second.  The motion was approved unanimously.


Attendees:  Members of the Committee – Commissioners Chair Tracy Wilburn, Gayle Jones, Joyce Woodard, Mathew Hopkins, Evan Baddour, Shelly Goolsby Other Commissioners – Judy Pruett, Roger Reedy, Joseph Sutton, Dr. James Lathrop, David Adams, Matt Rubelsky, Terry Jones, Erin Curry, David Wamble, Tim Risner, Caleb Savage, Brad Butler, Tammy Mathis  Other County Executive Graham Stowe, Bill Myers Director Emergency Management Services, Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners, Roy Griggs and Gwen Stacy E911 Board,  OHM – Mr. Schwager, Jason Griffin, and Paula Hepp, members of the public





ATTENDEES:  Members of the Committee Chair Commissioner Erin Curry, Commissioners: Terry Jones, David Adams, Mathew Hopkins, Gayle Jones, Evan Baddour and Judy Pruett Other Commissioners in attendance:  Joseph Sutton, Brad Butler, Shelly Goolsby, Tracy Wilburn, Dr. James Lathrop, Tim Risner, Matt Rubelsky, Joyce Woodard, Roger Reedy  Caleb Savage, Brad Butler, Tammy Mathis  Other:  County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners, Roy Griggs and Gwen Stacy E911 Board,  OHM – Mr. Schwager, Jason Griffin, and Paula Hepp, a member of the public