Supes spend $360K on boardroom

Supes spend $360K on boardroom


Madison County supervisors on Monday were split over moving forward with a $360,500 remodeling of their meeting room. 

Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a contract with J.E. Stevens Construction Group, LLC that officials say was driven by the need for better audio-visual features in the board room. 

“What are we getting for $360,000,” District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter asked. “Seems like an awful lot of money for this boardroom.” 

Buildings & Ground Director Drew Ridinger said the project was focused on IT (information technology) with the ability for presentations to be done. 

He told Baxter when they approached the project and the costs associated with adding presentation screens and all the technology needed, it made more economical sense to upgrade the boardroom finishes at the same time instead of piece-milling it. 

“I believe these finished are original to the building,” he said, saying everything was 15-17 years old. 

The winning bid came in $7,500 under the architect’s estimate. 

The architect estimated $165,000 for general construction for labor and material, $90,000 for the A/V equipment, $55,000 for electrical work, $5,000 for HVAC work, $10,000 for contingency, and $43,000 for furniture. 

The estimated furniture budget for labor and installation was for 30 new guest chairs with arms and upholstered seats/backs and 11 new executive task chairs, fully upholstered with high backs. This results in a cost average estimate of approximately $1,050 per chair.

Board President Gerald Steen said the boardroom needed updating, just like the county is updating other buildings. 

“I would prefer using money on roads and paving,” Baxter said, saying it was hard to justify $360,000 on A/V equipment. 

“Do we have any turn lanes or widening or anything that could be used that costs around or less than $360,000 right now waiting on funding,” District 1 Supervisor Casey Brannon asked. 

County Administrator Greg Higginbotham said there were enough road projects in the county that if they spent every dime of county money people “would still not be satisfied.”

“I’ve been sitting behind this desk for three months and I don’t see where we could put a third of a million dollars into this room and it makes anyone’s life better,” Brannon said. “Where a turn lane somewhere or a resurfacing would make a lot of people’s lives better every single day.” 

“This is something we asked them to do,” Steen responded. “Something that’s been going on now at least a year. We have some other updates that are coming as well.” 

Steen then voted with District 4 Supervisor Karl Banks and District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin to approve the remodeling, with Baxter and Brannon voting against it. 

Following the approval, Steen told the board they needed to ask questions before it got to this point. 

“When we give the OK to move these things forward…if you have an objection at that point, please speak out at that point. These things cost money and they do need to be updated. We want to ask questions up front.”

“Like we did on Bozeman Road, eight years and you started asking questions,” Baxter chided back, referencing Steen’s recent about-face on the longstanding road project. 

“Yeah, you’ve got to ask questions,” Steen responded. 

“You just said don’t ask questions,” Baxter quipped before Griffin told the pair to settle down. 

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