Chesterton Tribune



County gets $320K worth of good news on cost of capital improvements

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The Porter County Commissioners received word that their bill from Skillman Corporation--the construction firm acting as the County’s agent for its capital improvement projects--will be reduced by $320,000.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Project Manager for Skillman Scott Cherry explained where he found the savings. Cherry said he has been working on planning the staffing and scope of renovations at the Porter County Courthouse, Expo Center, and the new building planned for the North County Complex that the County will share with the Portage Township Trustee and the Portage Food Bank.

“It was my job to make sure we develop a budget for those projects and a timeline. I always anticipate the worst-case scenario when it comes to our fees,” Cherry said. “The savings comes from what I budgeted for our staffing and general conditions.”

According to Cherry, the addition to North County will be the most complex project in terms of staffing. That, and the work on the Expo Center, will require a Skillman employee working full-time. With other upcoming projects, there is room for consolidation. Cherry said that Skillman is reducing its fee to the County by $320,000 considering the new plans for staffing. He said the plans are “Locked in and ready to go” unless something changes.

Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, added that the Board pushing for a fast-paced schedule has helped as well. “We’re pushing the threshold. We’re pushing these projects a lot. We want to get a lot of shovels in the ground this fall,” Good said. “If you can compress the schedule, you’re gonna save money in this game, and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Capital Improvements Updates

The Board approved a contract with Amereco, Inc. for environmental consulting that will determine the safety of the materials used in the construction of the Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso. Cherry noted that old buildings can have hazardous materials such as asbestos in unexpected places like floor tiles and caulking. Cherry said it is especially important to find anything hazardous before the windows of the Courthouse are replaced. The cost for the Valparaiso Courthouse is $1,100 and the North County Courthouse will also be inspected to the tune of $800.

The old jail building at 157 Franklin in downtown Valparaiso will become the new Porter County Annex building, and the design work will be courtesy of Valparaiso-based Shive-Hattery, in another money-saving move. Cherry reported that Shive-Hattery took on the design work for the inside of the jail building and added that work to its existing contract for work on the Courthouse and Expo Center for nine percent of the construction cost. Cherry said Shive-Hattery reduced their fees related to the Expo Center when they added the two new projects to the contract. Combining the work for these projects with one firm will save about $90,000, Cherry said. Good said the savings indicate good planning and fiscal management. “I think this proves that with our team doing these capital improvement projects, we’re also trying to figure out how we can grab some money back.”

The Board approved a payment to American StructurePoint for renovation on the administration center plaza, which was officially opened during a ribbon cutting on June 5. The Board approved a payment of $31,741.16, leaving a remaining balance of $25,302.97.


Posted 6/21/2018




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