Board consults with Carrier

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Marshall County School Board's Building and Maintenance Committee heard a presentation a from the senior service supervisor for Carrier Commercial Service during its meeting Thursday evening.

Marshall County commissioners recently signed a five-year maintenance contract with Carrier, after the company completed a three-year contract. During that time the county reportedly saved $20,000 to $30,000 annually.

"It's definitely not business as usual anywhere," said chairman Craig Michael, who invited David Fagan, a Carrier service supervisor, to speak with the committee about how the county is handling the maintenance of its buildings.

County spending on maintenance varied wildly from year to year, Fagan told the school system's committee. As a result, county leaders were attracted by Carrier's ability to cover everything for a fixed amount, and to lock in that price for a multi-year contract.

For the first three-year contract, the county was paying $165,000 per year. Now they have agreed to $176,000 per year for five years. The new contract includes three new air conditioning and heating units and installation.

"They're tickled to death with it," Fagan reported. "It's taken a huge load off Freda (Terry, director of accounts and budgets.)"

He has one employee making daily rounds of county buildings, checking everything, so problems are caught and corrected in a timely manner, Fagan said. If there's a crisis - like the air conditioning at the jail breaking down - Fagan has other people he can pull in to get the situation corrected right away.

Carrier has a maintenance contract with several municipalities in Tennessee, Fagan said, adding, "Most municipalities really like it because they can control their cost."

He suggested the school board might start with a contract just for maintaining the Heating Ventilation and Cooling systems. The Buildings and Maintenance Committee now has a list of all the HVAC equipment at the schools, and Fagan said if they gave him this, plus a copy of the maintenance budget for the last three years, he could work up a price. Of course, he said, if his study showed that what the school system was currently doing in regard to maintenance was cost effective, he would tell them so, and recommend that they not change.

"It didn't make sense not to look at doing things a different way," concluded Michael. "We're in the education business, not the maintenance business." The schools' maintenance department currently consists of supervisor Sheldon Davis, a secretary, and 11 maintenance men.

They have several projects waiting to be done, and Dr. Stan Curtis, director of schools, said he would get the total cost of each project before it's started. If the cost of any one project is more than $5,000 he plans to bring it to the school board for approval before proceeding.

Michael asked if any progress had been with getting the Tennessee Valley Authority energy audit suggested by Commissioner Larry McKnight, chairman of the commission's Education Committee. Curtis replied, "Janet (Wiles, the school system's budget director) has contacted them but they haven't come yet."