More than $242,000 over budget, GCS council angrily approves new public works building


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Although it was $242,546 mover budget, contentious and annoyed city council reluctantly approved the final plans by an architect to design the city’s new public works administration building.

Given a $1.3 million budget, original plans submitted by Auld and White Constructors and Bhide and Hall Architects was for a $1.8 million building. The architects immediately were told to make some “value-engineering” cuts to the plan. The latest plan is for $1,345,000 – plus the cost adjustments made by the architects.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a shell game,” councilman Van Royal said. “I’m very disappointed with the contractors. I’m very upset with the architects [Bhide and Hall]. I will not support any kind of work going forward. Every time they made a drawing, they got paid. I’m not going to do that anymore.”

All five council members said delaying a final approval would likely lead to additional costs – and an even greater overage.

“We budget based on their estimate,” Mitch Timberlake said.

The extra costs will be paid from 2020 tax revenues, assistant city manager Mike Null said.

The city wanted a building that would last as least 50 years, Timberlake said.

Included in the cost-saving cuts were: fewer windows, less restroom tile and the removal of a bike rack.

“We were expecting a 50-year building,” council woman Pamela Lewis said. “We were expected a good place to work.”

The meeting opened with council members Connie Butler, Van Royal and Steven Kelley all being sworn into new terms. After that, the council voted unanimously to appoint Kelley as the new mayor and Royal as the vice mayor.

In other business, the council approved the following:

-To borrow $1.5 million from Synovus for improvements to three water distribution centers. The money will be paid back by the water utility system during the next 10 years.

-A certified map to the Clay County Clerk of the Circuit Court showing a portion of Ruby Street that’s been built, maintained and repaired continuously for the past four years.

-The expenditure of $115,151 for repairs to the Forbes Street gravity sewer system.

-An agreement with the Northeast Florida Area Agency on the Aging for customers eligible under the Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program.

-To purchase a used 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe K9 unit from the North Miami Beach Police Department for $8, 200, including repairs and upgrades.


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