Commissioners address renovation questions

There has been misinformation circulating about the bid process and ongoing renovations at the county courthouse, Commissioner Alan Hall said at the Jan. 11 meeting. He said the public does not necessarily understand the process the state has put in place and addressed the issue during the meeting’s public comment period.
Hall said that through a competitive process, Johnson Controls was selected by the county in May 2014, as its energy performance contractor. Under state law, hiring the performance contractor saves “a ton of money and a lot of time,” Hall said. “The public procurement was the hiring of Johnson Controls,” he said.
In the past, an architect, engineer, construction manager and consultants would have been brought on board for the work – but that can all now be handled by the performance contractor. “It’s a lot different than it was 20 years ago. It’s more cost effective,” Hall said, adding it is also the preferred way to move ahead with a rehab/remodeling project.
Nick Scracik, of Johnson Controls, said the company is held accountable and liable for performance outcomes, such as with the energy savings project at the courthouse that began in 2014.
Hall said that in Phase 1 of the project, there was about $100,000 in unanticipated expenses that was “eaten by the performance contractor, not the taxpayers.”
In the current phase of the project, the installation of a new elevator was originally calculated at 12-feet but is actually 30, which cost an additional $30,000. The overage was also handled by Johnson Controls.
Current renovations will move the Montrose District Court offices from the Old Jail on Lake Avenue to the area of the courthouse that used to house the treasurer’s office and tax claim bureau.
The magistrate’s office is expected to move in late January or early February.
Hall said that when a firm date is known, the county will advertise the location change and erect signage.
Other work includes a new main entrance at the side of the building along Lake Avenue; with renovations also being made to the historical records department; assessment; and the district attorney’s office.
The Assessment office, which moved out of the courthouse as this phase of renovations began last year, is expected to return in early spring.
Hall said, “We had people working in the basement. It was not handicap accessible. The (addition of a new) elevator will make us compliant and be able to service people who have special needs.”
Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold thanked both the staff and the public for their patience during the renovations. “It will pay off and be beneficial in the end,” she said.
The county has not yet looked into the Old Jail. Hall said once the magistrate’s office moves, experts will be asked to review the facility and present options. “The building to me,” Hall said,” is not inhabitable until a major renovation is done.”
In other business, the commissioners approved position transfers as part of a restructuring of the county’s Dept. of Public Safety, following salary board approval of the restructuring.
Robert Thatcher Jr. took on the title of Emergency Management Coordinator; and Paul Johnson transferred to the position of Emergency Management Operations and Training Officer.
The Tax Claim Bureau was authorized to accept any price negotiated by Director Jason Miller for 10 properties on the county repository list.
The commissioners approved a $56,555 in county matching funds for the agricultural conservation easement purchases for the 2017 program year. These funds are reserved exclusively for the purchase of ag easements.
A contract with Reed’s Generator Service, of Jackson, was approved for annual generator maintenance and related repairs at a cost of $1,610 plus the cost of synthetic oil by the quart. Related repairs will be billed separately.
The bid for refuse service was awarded to Joe’s Disposal Service of Hallstead, for a two-year period ending Nov. 30, 2018.
Bids for excavating were opened and sent to the solicitor for review.
The commissioners recognized the Susquehanna County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB), as supported by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. CJAB is comprised of members from law enforcement, health and human service agencies, corrections, victim services agencies and probation/parole.
The following appointment/re-appointments were made:
*Economic Development Board, three-year term, expiring Dac. 31, 2019: Stephan Tourje, Herrick Twp.,; William Owens, Clifford Twp.; and Richard Ainey, New Milford Borough. Ainey is a new appointee; while Tourje and Owens were reappointed to their positions.
*Penn State Extension Advisory Council, three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2019: Brad Sebring, Bridgewater Twp.
*Ag Land Preservation Board, three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2019: Brad Sebring, Bridgewater Twp.
The Retirement Board, comprised of the commissioners, Chief Clerk Lana Adams and Treasurer Jason Miller, set the regular rate of interest for 2017 at 4 percent to be credited to the member contribution accounts in the employee retirement plan.

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