Commissioners broaden view on maintenance

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Marshall County commissioners on the Building Committee have agreed to broaden their view of what to do about county building maintenance, the committee chairman said Monday.

The committee has been in an awkward position in recent months. Some officials thought a contracted service would be dropped in favor of expanding the school system's maintenance department, but no formal agreement was reached.

That led to renewal of a contract with Carrier, but it was found to be contrary to state policy since building maintenance isn't a professional service and the contract should have been subject to competitive bidding. Professional services from architects, engineers, auditors and legal counsel are exempt from competitive bids, according to state law.

A request for proposals was issued and Carrier submitted a plan of service that was different from its rival, the Lewisburg Plumbing and Heating Co. Comparisons were difficult, so commissioners on the committee called for specifications to be written. They were to be reviewed and possibly approved at the most recent meeting late last month.

Commissioner Mickey King is the chairman of the Building Committee. It's scheduled to meet again on March 19.

Last month the committee examined the option of getting out of the Carrier contract, King said.

"Carrier gave a 5 percent discount for paying early," he continued. "We'd lose that $5,000 if we opt out before a year passes.

"There were some differences between [the offers from] Carrier and Lewisburg Plumbing & Heating that the committee wasn't satisfied with," King said of how he interpreted committee members' sentiment last month.

"There was a vote to stay with Carrier," he said, but commissioners also want to prepare for rebidding the contract, looking at the schools' maintenance department and looking at having our county-paid maintenance men.

"That's what we're going to consider on March 19: looking at putting different scopes of work together, looking at maybe going with the schools or hiring our own men, just looking at every option we have," King said.

Meanwhile the specifications have not been set for a bid call on the work, he said.

"We're looking at everything," the committee chairman said.

In a related development, there have been complaints about malfunctioning commodes at the Courthouse, including the restroom at the jury room.

"We've had trouble there for years," King said. "They were supposed to work on it [Monday] with a camera" to view what's in the pipes and where they might be broken.

Small video cameras have been used for decades for such purposes.

"They thought it might be tree roots," King said of the maintenance crews. "A commercial liquid opened it up, but then it was stopped up again."

Work was started by Carrier which then subcontracted some of the work to Lewisburg Plumbing & Heating "to get the scope out," King said.

Carrier has "been subbing out work to Lewisburg Plumbing & Heating," he said. "It's stuff that LP&H would bill the county for."

Six or seven years ago, a trench had to be dug in the Courthouse lawn to deal with a sewer problem, King said.