By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
The Jefferson County Board on Monday approved a motion to draft a letter of intent to move forward with M360 on a potential construction or renovation project at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The Public Safety Committee recommended the action to the full board after hearing information from both M360 and Ameresco, energy performance contractors who submitted requests for proposal to the county.
Public Safety Committee Chairman Scott Taaka said based on the percentage bids both contractors submitted, they will be close in price. He said the choice comes down to the board’s comfort level with the company.
Board member James Laird said he was concerned about making too many decisions before a new board is seated in January, but Taaka said he believed the board should move quickly to get a plan in place.
“This courthouse is in sorry shape,” he said. “Deferred maintenance costs twice as much.
He said as a maintenance worker in the private sector, he would have been fired for the maintenance decisions that have been made at the courthouse.
County Board Vice Chairman Wayne Hails said he believes the board should move forward and spend money to secure an action plan for future improvements.
Board member Don Rector said Rend Lake Plumbing recommended M360, and asked Taaka which firm he preferred. Taaka said he leaned toward choosing M360 as well.
James Malone recommended the action to the full board, with Joey McDermott seconding the motion.
The County Board approved a second recommendation from the Public Safety Committee, to work with Douglas D. Sitton of Sitton Construction Group on an as-needed basis. Sitton serves as an advocate for business owners as they move forward in construction projects, he said.
“We are experts at how to get the maximum out of a performance contract,” he said.
Taaka said he became interested in Sitton’s services after board member Ted Buck said the county needed more eyes on the project.
Malone and Rector made the recommendation to the full board, who approved the measure with one vote — Hails — against it.
The County Board in addition approved the creation of a sixth committee, a Technology Committee, due to the increased use of technology by the board.
“With the website, the increased use of technology, and the tablets, laptops, iPads, or whatever you want to call them budgeted for the next board, I think it’s appropriate to go through a committee,” White said, adding that other counties he investigated have separate technology committees as well.
John Keele, board member, made a motion to approve the creation of the committee, with Taaka seconding the measure.
Keele and Malone made a motion and seconded the appointment of Robert Knutson as chairman of the committee, with members Fred Edwards, Wayne Hails, John Keele, Jim Laird and Scott Taaka.
Malone said he believed board member Jeremy Hall would be an asset to the committee. Hall said he appreciated the kind words and wished the committee luck.
The board went into executive session to discuss collective bargaining issues. Upon returning to open session, the board unanimously approved a three-year contract for Jefferson County Fraternal Order of Police employees, White said.
The contract started Dec. 2011, and ensures a three percent raise each year, White said. In addition, the employees on this contract will begin making contributions toward their health insurance — $20 per month in the first year, $22.50 per month in the second year, and $25 per month in the third year.
White said this is the first time since 1996 that the county board has had a successful negotiation without going into arbitration.