Adams County Board to wait one month before selecting engineering firm to replace courthouse HVAC system

Adams County Courthouse

The exterior of the Adams County Courthouse. | David Adam

QUINCY — Bret Austin says the Adams County Board is “three-quarters of a mile into a mile race” when it comes to solving the replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the Adams County Courthouse.

The board tabled for one month a motion to vote to select an engineering firm that would begin the design work for the new system. Austin introduced the motion, saying he would help put together a side-by-side comparison summarizing the costs and options presented by Architechnics of Quincy and RTM Engineering Consultants from Belleville.

“My only pullback of this was that it was jarring to me that for two things that were going to be seriously vetted, one had design fees included (in the cost) and one did not,” said Austin, chair of the board’s Finance Committee. “That’s like a tip of the iceberg thing to me. I just really wanted to slow the roll down. 

“It costs us nothing to wait for a month. We’re over the hump where HVAC and mold in the building are all related. We’ve addressed a lot of the mold remediation stuff. HVAC is a whole separate system that is not related to that. I think we’re in good shape on vetting the system the way it should be vetted.”

The courthouse’s HVAC system is supported by a boiler from the 1950s and other parts from the building’s last major remodel in 1997. It has long exceeded its expected life and needs to be replaced. The County Board has been wrestling with the issue since the discovery of mold in the courthouse in December 2022.

Both engineering firms are proposing the installation of a four-pipe HVAC system with four insulated pipes: two supply lines and two return lines. One set is dedicated to chilled water, kept between 40 and 60 degrees. Another set of pipes is dedicated to hot water, generally kept between 150 and 200 degrees. The pipes run from a boiler or chiller to air handlers.

A May 29 cost estimate provided by Tom Buchheit with RTM was for $6,977,150. No contingency was factored into the estimate. Buchheit recommended a 10 percent contingency — 5 percent for variances in the bidding market and five percent for things such as errors, omissions and unforeseen conditions.

RTM’s fee for design and construction services is based on a percentage of the construction cost. Buchheit expects the range for the Adams County project to be between 7.25 and 8.75 percent.

The Architechnics estimate, provided on May 31 by Todd Moore, was for $6.8 million. A flat design fee of $625,000 was not included in that estimate, and the estimate didn’t mention any contingency plan.

Finance Committee member Ryan Hinkamper said the two firms are proposing the same type of HVAC system.

“Once they get into the design phase and go through things, something may come up that may change (the cost),” he said. “This is all based off a study and ‘best guess’ to start.”

Dave Bellis, chair of the Transportation, Building and Technology Committee, was asked if his committee had a recommendation before a vote was taken.

“Tonight, we didn’t,” he said. “Last month, we did.”

“I’d rather spend the money locally myself, but obviously, it’s the whole board’s decision,” Hinkamper said.

“What we should be looking at the most right now is what the cost is for each firm, what it’s going to cost us and which firm is going to do us the best job,” said David McCleary, R-6. “They’re (both) going to send the bid out to basically the same people.”

“The chances are real good that would be a local contractor doing the work,” Bellis said.

Austin wanted to make sure the board knew what Architechnics and RTM have provided are “the very first preliminary estimates.”

“Having (an Excel spreadsheet with) all the line items in there would be good (to study for next month’s meeting),” he said. “You just call it an ‘estimated budget worksheet’ right at the top, right in the header. No one will think it’s an actual bid. Then we’ll go from there.”

In other action, the Board:

  • Approved a resolution granting a special use permit to 789 N 550th Ave, LLC and its parent company, Summit Ridge Energy, LLC, for the construction and operation of a 2.125 MWac (megawatt alternating current) commercial solar energy facility known as the Quincy-McNay Solar Project in Fall Creek Township.
  • Reappointed Melvin Moellring to the Central Adams Fire Protection District.
  • Approved one-day liquor permits for the Central Illinois Wrestling Corporation’s “Summer Fest 2024” on July 13 in Camp Point’s Bailey Park, the Adams County Fair from July 24-30, a tractor pull on the Adams County Fairgrounds on June 30 and the Golden Fall Festival on Sept. 6-8.
  • Approved pyrotechnic display requests for Andy Frazier with Oak Wood Acres on July 5, Rob Ebbing on July 13-14, Spring Lake Association on July 6, the Village of Camp Point  on July 4 and Sheridan Swim Club on July 4.
  • Learned the average daily population in the Adams County Jail was 120 in May.
  • Learned 74 deaths were recorded in Adams County in May.
  • Approved an additional fund appropriation from Adams County Sheriff Tony Grootens for $19,900 in a COVID-19 expense account. “It’s just a legacy account with $19,900 in it,” Austin said. “The sheriff is asking to open up the expense side so they can use that money. We’ll use it down to zero and close the account.”
  • Transferred $5,000 from a contingency fund to a Supervisor of Assessment Fee Appraisals fund. Austin said this money will allow Supervisor of Assessments Georgene Zimmerman to perform an appraisal on a value-disputed property. “This (transfer) gets her up to where she needs to be to cover that,” he said.
  • Learned the county must spend its remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money by the end of the year. Austin said the county has “somewhere around about $280,000” of unallocated money, and another $200,000 was budgeted for the riverfront underground burial line project that isn’t moving forward. 
  • Appointed Rich Zeidler to the 377 Board (which oversees the care and treatment of people with a developmental disability).
Stephanie Ogle, a deputy treasurer in Adams County, was recognized during Tuesday night’s Adams County Board meeting. Adams County Treasurer Bryden Cory gave her an award for being the “heart and soul of our civil side of the courthouse.” Ogle has worked in the treasurer’s office since 1992. “She’s somebody who I’ve never heard a bad word about,” Cory said. “When you work in an office where people aren’t always happy when they come, she’s never said ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t.'” At left is Kent Snider, president of the Adams County Board. | David Adam

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