Board awards $2.1 million contract for new 911 center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Even after county staff cut as much as they could, building the new 911 center will cost more than expected, the county manager said Monday.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners awarded a $2.179 million contract Monday for the 911 telecomunications center. In October, the board approved a design estimated to cost $1.7 million.
Every bid came in above budget, County Manager Gary Page told the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. County staff worked with the architects and Holden Construction Company, the lowest bidder, to bring the price down.
They were able to cut more than $400,000, Page said, by eliminating some amenities and paying for some equipment from state 911 subscriber fees instead of the construction fund.
Holden had originally submitted a bid of $2.585 million, which Page said was the best price received by the county.
But representatives from Sexton Construction argued that they had, in fact, submitted the lowest bid at $2.564 million.
County Attorney Jay Dees said Sexton left the cost of soil removal and replacement out of its total bid amount, so his opinion is that Hudson was indeed the lowest bidder.
When the price per cubic yard is totaled up and included, Sexton’s bid is actually higher than Holden’s original one by more than $200,000.
“On bid day (Dec. 13), we felt the bid form was both confusing and ambiguous,” said James Bradshaw, an engineer with Sexton. “We are hereby requesting that the county award us the project, as we were lowest responsible bidder, and if not, to reject all bids and rebid the project.”
Page said taking the time to rebid could cause the county to lose some of the $590,000 available in state 911 money, which must be spent by June 30.
Tom Terrell, a Greensboro attorney representing Holden, said the other 13 bidders were able to fill out the form correctly.
“Nobody else had a problem following your rules,” Terrell said. “It’s not a question of rules. It’s just a question of math.”
The board voted unanimously to award the contract to Holden.
It was unclear Monday how the contract price would affect the cost of the entire 911 communications project, including new radios and towers. In October, Page said the project was set to come in $2 million under its $12 million budget.
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Also Monday, commissioners agreed to direct county staff to start the process of finding a replacement for County Tax Administrator Jerry Rowland, who will retire June 30.
At first, Commissioner Jon Barber moved that the county instruct staff to develop a hiring process for the position and bring it before the board at its next meeting.
Barber said Rowland should be commended for his nearly 25 years of service with the county, and his replacement should be chosen according to the current job requirements.
“This is too vital of a function for our ability to have a very good budget,” Barber said. “This leader would be responsible for not only defining what the values of property are but also making sure that our taxes are collected.”
Rowland worked as Rowan County’s tax assessor from 1988 until 2009 when the county tax collector left. He was then named to the position of tax administrator, which was created to head both offices.
Barber said commissioners could keep the administrator position, which he prefers, or go back to having two department heads. The board can appoint his replacement for either a two-year term or a four-year term, both of which are renewable.
Commissioner Jim Sides said he thought the process the county used to hire its manager worked very well.
Sides said the human resources department advertised the job opening and description, collected applications and presented a list of qualified candidates. Commissioners then picked their top few candidates to interview and brought the hiring decision to a vote.
“There’s really no reason, in my opinion, to require human resources to develop a process that already exists,” Sides said.
Barber readily offered to amend his motion, and when he did, Sides seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
In other business
Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Set a public hearing for Feb. 20 to consider tax incentives for an existing Rowan County company, dubbed “Project Protein,” that wants to add 145 jobs and invest $22 million.
• Approved a commitment letter to the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to provide up to $6 million in unrestricted funding toward locating and building a new administrative central office.
“We acknowledge our commitment of $6 million was not the level of funding you desired, but it will fund 45,000 square feet of your goal of 62,000 square feet,” wrote Chairman Chad Mitchell in a letter to school board Chairman Jim Emerson.
• Approved an insurance claim process for Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. In September 2011, the county agreed to sell its share of the stadium to the city of Kannapolis, and staff members are still working on a contract. A wind and hail storm in November caused roof damage.
The board followed County Manager Gary Page’s recommendation that the county pay the $25,000 insurance deductible from the stadium fund balance, which is set to transfer to the city, and pay an additional $14,312 from the county’s self-insurance pool.
• Made a counter-offer to Crown and Associates for the terms of an extension on its lease of a Providence Church Road property used for a monopole cell tower.
• Held a public hearing for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application.
• Approved the Cabarrus/ Iredell/Rowan HOME Consortium’s fiscal year 2012-13 action plan after holding a public hearing.
• Set public hearings for Feb. 20 about a fire prevention and protection ordinance and a ban on smoking and use of tobacco products in Rowan County parks.
• Set a public hearing for March 5 about amendments to the county’s zoning and noise ordinance.
• Approved a $19,000 grant for the EMS division from the North Carolina Office of Rural Health and Community Care. The funding will provide training and corresponding textbooks to 11 paramedics.
• Delayed an EMS division request to declare four laptops as surplus and donate them to four ambulance franchise agencies. Commissioners said they had received new information.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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