By RANDY GONZALES
The Ellis County Commission wasn't ready to move forward on a county building project after receiving a revised cost estimate.
In Monday's regular meeting, commissioners directed Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund to contact the architect for the new EMS/rural fire building to get answers to questions concerning the building's cost.
The county budgeted $3.5 million in construction costs, but all six bids came in above the budget, with the lowest at $3.95 million. Commissioners rejected all bids in December, then decided in January to change the design of the building from concrete to all-metal to save money.
With proposed changes to lower costs, Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture's estimate for a pre-manufactured, all-metal building is $3.24 million.
Commissioner Dean Haselhorst thought there should have been even more cost savings with the switch in design.
"I guess, when you talk (to the architect), I'd like to know how he came up with that number," Haselhorst said. "Because I think we should be under $3 million pretty easy."
Ellis County EMS Director Kerry McCue said he had spoken with Ellis County Emergency Management Director Bill Ring about the the architect's proposed changes to save money and told commissioners of some concerns. Those concerns included placing a generator closer to the building, deleting a folding partition to be used in case of multiple meetings at the same time and not finishing a fitness room.
"That's a fundamental thing, so Bill or (Ellis County Rural Fire Director) Dick (Klaus) can have a meeting, and we can have a meeting at the same time," McCue said of the folding partition.
Not having the partition would save $17,500.
"That's a large cost," Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger said.
McCue said if finishing the fitness room wasn't included in the initial building costs, he hoped it would be included in the capital purchasing process.
"There's all sorts of things that I think would be really nice to have, but we're talking about trying to get within the budget we have to -- only so many dollars we have to deal with," Wasinger said.
Haselhorst also thought 22 garage doors was excessive -- and costly.
"I want to know why we need 22 garage doors," he said. "That's insane."
Sund reminded commissioners the architect didn't decide on the number of garage doors; the county did.
In other business:
* Commissioners approved a resolution endorsing the economic development tax exemption for Hays Fire & Rescue Sales and Service LLC for a new building at 1151 Moe Road.
* Commissioners approved the annual weed report from weed control operation in the Public Works Department.
* Commissioners heard the monthly Extension report.
* Commissioners reviewed 2014 township budgets.
* Commissioners agreed to meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Sund's office for a conference call with the architect for the remodeling project at 718 Main, site of the county's future administrative center. The two bids for that project came in above the county's amount budgeted and were rejected.
* Commissioners met in executive session for 27 minutes with Sund, County Counselor Bill Jeter, Public Works Director Mike Graf and Environmental Planning and Zoning Director Karen Purvis for attorney/client discussion. No action was taken.