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Committee Shaves $40,000 From $1.08 Million Projects

Dismayed over the realization that as proposed, the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan started in 2013 will add over $36 million in new debt by 2019, Marinette County Board at its meeting on Tuesday, June 24 sent the plan back to the individual committees, with a request to cut the proposed 2015 projects wherever they can. Plans are to pay for the projects with bond issue borrowing, which will be repaid over a 10 to 15 year period by increased property taxes.

That $36 million is in addition to the $9.435 million the board borrowed in January of this year to finance capital improvements, mainly roads, in 2014.

The lion’s share of the total $36 million in debt-financed capital spending comes from other committees, mainly Highway, Law Enforcement and Information Services.

At its meeting on Tuesday, July 8, the County’s Buildings and Properties Committee took up the request to trim its capital project proposals for 2015, but ended up shaving only $40,000 from the total of $1,085,000. On advice of Finance Director Pat Kass, they reduced proposed spending for replacement of courtroom furniture from $60,000 to $20,000.

Other committees will be looking at their projects as they meet during the next month with an eye to cutting projects they have recommended.

Projects left unchanged by the Buildings and Property Committee include $75,000 for work on the Niagara Senior Center in addition to the roof that was scheduled for this year; $100,000 to replace the library building roof at UW-Marinette plus $700,000 to replace the eight aging heat exchange units there, and $150,000 to refurbish the UW-Marinette administration building elevator. The $40,000 cut in the proposed allocation for courtroom furniture brings their debt financed project total down to $1,045,000.

Projects listed for 2016 include $150,000 to replace the cattle barn on the fairgrounds in Wausaukee, and $200,000 for UW-Marinette Field House parking lot and lighting. Their only project planned for 2018 is replacing internally insulated ducts in the courthouse for $150,000.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting the committee agreed to hire Alfredson Brothers Construction of Menominee to do a remodeling project at the Highway, Forestry and Parks Department headquarters in Peshtigo for their low bid of $30,135. Cost will be divided equally between Highway, Parks and Forestry departments. Supervisor Russ Bousley pointed out the Parks and Forestry Department already has money set aside for the project.

The only other bid was from Pride Builders of Marinette, for $43,624.

The Parks and Forestry Departments were moved to the Peshtigo facility last year. The project, designed by Seaborg/Bunting Architects of Menominee, involves adding automatic handicap entry doors and moving partitions to create offices for Forest and Parks Administrator Pete Vilas and Assistant Parks Director Dave Marquardt. Construction of a handicap entry ramp will be handled by Highway Department personnel.

In discussion before deciding to accept the Alfredson bid, Supervisor Ken Mattison wondered why there was such a spread in bids. Bousley felt it depended on how badly each company wanted the job. He pointed out the project involves no plumbing and very little wiring. County Board Chair Vilas Schroeder felt even the $30,000 price “is on the high side” considering the limited amount of work to be done.

Once it’s approved by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison the contract will go to the Highway, Parks and Forestry committees and then to Finance for additional funding if necessary before going on to the full county board. Bousley asked Highway Commissioner Ray Palonen and Facilities Maintenance Director James Swanson to keep an eye on things as the job progresses, particularly the subcontractors that Alfredson Brothers may choose.

It was Swanson’s first meeting in his new role as Facilities Maintenance Director for the county. He has been on the job for just two weeks, and was introduced to County Board for the first time by Mattison at its meeting on Tuesday, June 24. He was selected by the three person team that is temporarily designated as county administrator. Members of that team are Mattison, Finance Director Pat Kass and Human Resources Director Jennifer Holtger.

The committee agreed to accept the low bid of $286,893 from Pride Builders of Marinette for construction of a new heated storage building at the Law Enforcement Center. However, the Law Enforcement budget only allocated $277,000 for the job, so Finance Committee will need to find the extra money. A spectator at the meeting commented that $60 per square foot “isn’t bad for a building of this nature.”

There was some discussion on whether or not the bid included a contingency fund, but it was decided to go with the bid as is. Bousley felt there wasn’t much likelihood of change orders, since it’s “a pretty simple building, a roof, a floor, four walls, and a steel frame.” UP Engineering is to handle construction oversight. The one problem that could be encountered involves soil at the site, which is mainly sand, but does include some swampy areas.

On Swanson’s recommendation the committee agreed to issue a request for proposals to replace heating system glycol at the courthouse. Swanson explained it’s like changing oil in a car, and needs to be done occasionally. He said the current glycol has become acidic and is corroding the system. Committee Chair Mike Behnke asked if the leaky valves are getting worse because of the glycol, and was told they are.

Swanson said at first the new glycol, which will be thinner, may make the leaks worse. He said they may also need to add pipes to the bottom of the boiler to get the sludge out. Currently there is no means of back flushing.

Later on the agenda the committee approved an agreement with Johnson Controls to repair 38 steam traps at a cost of $4,913.35. Swanson said this is a recurring expense, and he was told by the Johnson Controls person that they last only about three years. He said the county needs to look at ways to make them last longer, since they should need to replace no more than 10 percent of the valves a year instead of one third, which they have been doing. Supervisor Mike Cassidy suggested waiting to do the steam traps until the glycol is replaced, and Swanson said they have talked about coordinating the work, but they need to get it done before winter.

In the absence of a full time Facilities Maintenance Director, Bill Prue had been handling part of the responsibilities on a temporary basis until Swanson was hired, along with Highway Commissioner Palonen.

The Veterans Memorial Fountain at the courthouse is to get a face lift. Paint on the fountain and statues is not adhering. It was determined that ice blasting to remove the remaining paint would create a surface too smooth for new paint to adhere well. The committee approved a proposal from Quality Sandblasting, Inc. of Green Bay to do the sandblasting for not more than $3,000, and from Pool Works , Inc. of Green Bay to apply a Pebble Technology finish in either black or a sandy beach color for $1,900. The finish will be guaranteed for 20 years, and will keep looking very nice for that long as well, Pool Works representative Dave Kubiak said in a letter that was copied to Prue. The highway crew will remove the boulders in and around the fountain prior to the refinishing work and then return them to their regular positions.

Prue, with help from Joe Sievert, had obtained information on work needed on the fountain. Committee members commented Sievert had done a nice job of finding out what needs to be done.

Swanson told the committee the lift dock at the Law Enforcement Center is in bad shape and needs to be either repaired or replaced in the very near future.

“It’s built in a pit, which is unfortunate for equipment,” Swanson said. The bottom frame is rusted out, some of the rollers are corroded, and there are other problems. He said there is a floor drain in the middle of the pit, but it apparently was not properly maintained and became clogged with debris, keeping dampness around the base of the unit. He said repairs will cost $15,500, while a completely new lift, including a new hydraulic power unit, can be purchased for $21,500. Life expectancy of a hydraulic unit is 10 to 15 years, and the current one is that age now. He said in future, there will be regular maintenance, with the pit cleaned and the unit oiled on a monthly basis, and then he hopes it will last longer.

Schroeder asked if replacing one pit lift with another was the best option, of if they should try to find another system. Swanson said ideally there would have been a loading dock, “but that’s not the way it’s designed.” Delivery trucks use the lift every day, mainly to deliver jail supplies to the Law Enforcement Center building.

Corporation Counsel Mattison had entered the meeting during the discussion and pointed out the agenda said only that they would authorize RFPs for repairs, and they were already talking about prices and replacement.

Behnke suggested they should put out an RFP for prices for both repairs and replacement. Mattison pointed out their facilities director recommends new. Swanson repeated the repairs cost would about 75 percent of the cost of a totally new unit. Motion to seek RFPs for a new unit was unanimously approved.

Moving on to their discussion on the capital improvements plan, Mattison asked if they hadn’t just recently replaced the roof at UW-Marinette. The roof, at $100,000. The county owns the university buildings and is responsible for their maintenance. Schroeder and Behnke serve on the UW Marinette Campus County Working Group along with Dean Paula Langteau, Ron Birr and Kurt Willman. Schroeder, as County Board Chair, also serves on the UW Foundation board of directors.

Schroeder said the roof they replaced was on another building, not the library. “As far as I know, this one is original, which makes it 50 years old,” he said. UW Marinette was established in 1965, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The heat exchange units are also original. They can’t be repaired because parts are not made for them any more. Since they are mounted on the roof, it would be better to replace them while the roof is being done.

Like the lift at the Law Enforcement Center, the elevator goes into a pit in the ground, and that creates corrosion problems. “It doesn’t even have a safety phone,” Schroeder commented. He said it may last, but if they put off replacing it in 2015 they will just have to do it with the next borrowing. There is no safety catch, and if it falls it would go down into the pit. Decision was to leave both items on the 2015 schedule.

As to the Niagara Senior Center, Cassidy pointed out Phase One, approved last year, had been scheduled for this year, but has not been started yet. Because they did not want to load Palonen with work they had not asked him to put out RFPs. The $75,000 for Phase One is to include replacing a rotted roof deck, canopy and light, four laminated beams, added insulation and installation of seamless gutters. Cassidy suggested they get Swanson going on the Niagara issue and put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Behnke said he and Swanson would be taking a ride around the county on Tuesday and will visit the Niagara site.

Bousley suggested while there they should ask if the smell coming from city sewers is still a problem. He also noted, in regard to putting off the proposed improvements, that a lot of warm air is leaking out of the building due to poorly fitting windows, and suggested that enough money will be saved to make it worth getting the work done.

Swanson said from the time an RFP is issued until the work gets started they generally need to allow about two months. Cassidy suggested they request RFBs and then schedule a special meeting prior to the start of the July 29 County Board meeting, and that proposal was later approved.

Behnke said they have been putting off replacement of the university heat exchangers for a couple of years already, and need to get it done to prevent failure in midwinter.

Schroeder suggested forwarding their portion of the Capital Improvement Plan to the county board as it stands, except for changing the allocation for courtroom furniture from $60,000 to $40,000, and that motion was unanimously approved.

“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks,” Swanson said in his first report as Facilities Maintenance Director. He said he had been fortunate to receive a lot of good information from the custodial and maintenance staff, “who do a quality job, trying to please everyone and keep things looking good.” Swanson said he has been “meeting people, learning things, and deciding where to go from here.”

The next regular committee meeting will include discussion on replacing the air handling unit at the Health and Human Services building, and possible asbestos issues at the courthouse, where some things may have been disturbed that should not have been, according to Swanson. Responses to the RFP on Phase One of the Niagara Senior Center are also expected to be on the agenda for that meeting.


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