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Commissioners opt for metal building, reducing cost




The three Ellis County commissioners agreed at Monday's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse they want an all-metal structure for the new EMS/rural fire building.

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The three Ellis County commissioners agreed at Monday's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse they want an all-metal structure for the new EMS/rural fire building.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund will relay the wishes of the Ellis County Commission to the architect for the project, Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture, Wichita, and will get a cost estimate for that type of building.

The county budgeted $3.5 million in construction costs for the project, but all six bids came in above that amount, with the lowest bid at $3.95 million. The county rejected all bids.

"A steel building will probably bring it down a lot, if you go to an all-metal building," Sund told commissioners of the cost of metal versus a concrete building.

"The initial goal was to bring it down to give or take $3.5 million, so that we have a little bit of play in the pricing," Sund said. "If we go to an all-metal building, it's probably going to bring it down six, seven hundred thousand extra."

A metal garage and the rest of the building concrete would have been approximately $300,000 less, Sund said.

"We identify all the cost-saving measures that we talked about and see what directions we want to go," Sund said. "I really don't think we need to go to an all-steel building unless we want to redesign the building, because if we just go to a steel garage, that would be enough of a difference we could handle this budget."

Commissioner Barbara Wasinger said the county could save money by going to an all-steel building.

"We can do that," Sund said. "We have sold bonds to do this, so it would probably mean we would just re-direct more money toward (the courthouse/Law Enforcement Center) project, if we had some left over."

"Or pay it off faster," Wasinger said.

In May, voters approved a 0.5-percent county sales tax for renovations and expansion of the courthouse and Law Enforcement Center and construction of a new EMS/rural fire building at 22nd Street and General Hays Road. The total cost would be $12.3 million, plus $2 million in interest. The sales tax would sunset in five years or when the projects are paid off, whichever comes sooner.

Commissioners also discussed another project that came in over bid in December. The new county administrative center at 718 Main, site of the former Commerce Bank building, was budgeted at $600,000 for remodeling.

The two bids for the project -- which will be paid for out of the county's budget and is not part of the sales tax -- came in at $944,000 and $995,000. Spangenberg Phillips Tice also is the architect for the 718 Main project.

"The architect is encouraging our staff to get together to see if there's things they're willing to give up in the building," Sund said.

"I think it might be more time efficient if we look at what was originally drawn up and how it got changed," Wasinger said. "The first plans were needs. The second plans became needs and wants."

"The original intent was the use of a bank isn't tremendously different for use of what we're doing," Sund said. "And so we were trying to do this project with the least amount of change we could do. That was the original goal."

In other business:

* As part of the county's reorganization, Wasinger assumed the role of chairwoman for the commission. She is the first woman to have that position in the county.

* Commissioners approved a resolution calling for the defeat of any legislative bills submitted for the 2014 legislative session that would request the elimination of the mortgage registration fee.

* Commissioners approved a resolution rejecting inventories as submitted and directed all departments to review lists and verify if items on the lists are in inventory, and only items that fall under the definition of an asset in the county asset management policy be listed.

* Commissioners approved the 2014 contract with Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas.

* Commissioners approved a cereal malt beverage license for Big John's Saloon, Catharine.

* Commissioners discussed a resolution for insurance proceeds and will put it on next week's agenda as an action item.

* Commissioners discussed developing a county policy for travel, to be used as a guideline.

* Sund said meetings scheduled for every two weeks with the architect for the courthouse/Law Enforcement Center project would begin Jan. 28. Estimated costs of components for the project will be among items discussed in those meetings.

* A budget planning session has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at 718 Main.

* Commissioner Swede Holmgren requested commissioners go into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss a personnel issue. No action was taken.