Workshop Identifies Potential Cost-Saving Measures for County Building

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. In the wake of the Flathead County Commission’s recent decision to award a bid for the new South Campus building, the board met on Jan. 16 to go over any possible cost-saving measures within the bid.Commissioner Phil Mitchell told the crowd gathered for the workshop session that he was the driving force behind the meeting, because the building had been presented to the public as costing $6 million, when the actual bid came in closer to $7 million.“I just felt it was important that we have this meeting,” Mitchell said.He said he wouldn’t propose to cut square footage from the building, which will house the county’s Agency on Aging program along with space for the Flathead City-County Health Department, but instead look for savings in the current building design.Presentations from CTA Architects Engineers and Swank Enterprises, which was awarded the bid on Dec. 31, showed possible cost savings through different materials or eliminating certain aspects of the design.A breakdown of the site costs for the building showed a possible $100,000 in savings, through changes like using metal posts and siding for the trash enclosure instead of brick, and reducing landscaping and changing irrigation materials.Another $40,000 could be saved if the building construction does not include thicker, stronger pylons or micropiles that would be put in in anticipation of the skybridge that would eventually connect the South Campus building to the nearby Earl Bennett building.On the building’s exterior, the county could save $20,000 by not using mitered corners and aluminum extrusions, or $15,000 by removing a skylight. Total savings for the building’s exterior could be $55,000, but that would include removing canopies covering the sidewalks around the building.Most of the site and exterior savings ideas were met with no resistance from the county department directors who would eventually use the building for their projects; however, the directors urged the commission to keep the canopies for safety and snow removal purposes.“If it protects a sidewalk, I’m all for it,” county maintenance superintendent Jed Fisher said. “If we can cover it for $20,000, it’ll pay for itself.”Building interior changes included using less tile and reducing wall and window coverings, as well as changing the type of elevator used, switching from a traction model to a hydraulic system instead.One major potential source of savings would be removing the planned backup generator and transfer switch, accounting for $43,000. However, AOA director Lisa Sheppard said her programs use bulk buying and freezer space to save money on food, and should the power go out for an extended amount of time and the freezers and refrigerators shut off, there would be major losses.Sheppard also said she supported money-saving measures as long as they don’t affect the health and safety of the senior population and the staff that will eventually use the building.Information technology director for the county Vicki Saxby said that without a backup generator or the possible loss of a clean agent fire system in the future IT room – which would use a dry extinguishing agent instead of water to help save the servers – there is no way the IT department could move into the building.Electrical savings could come from switching up $3,000 worth of light fixtures, changing them from preferred indirect lighting to direct lighting, or removing $500 worth of dimming features.Much of the workshop’s discussion revolved around current desires for financial savings versus future expansion needs, such as the potential third floor addition. The county could save $250,000 if all the provisions for the third floor were removed, but Commission Gary Krueger said there would need to be a balance between saving now and adding future expenses.In sum, the workshop identified $378,700 in savings for the site, the building’s interior and exterior, and mechanical and electrical areas.County health officer Joe Russell said he would never scrimp on an elevator, nor on a backup generator. He also said he would support the site and exterior changes.No official decisions were made as far as the changes to the project during the workshop. Emaillast_img read more