Construction began on the new Blanco County Annex building, located north of the Courthouse, on Monday, April 26. Bulldozers went to work preparing the base foundation for the slab. Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday after their regular scheduled meeting. This was a proud moment for the County Judge and Commissioner’s who have seen this project come to life over the past year.
While one building is going up, the next is in the paperwork process. Marty Skaggs with Templeton Construction presented the Court with a guaranteed maximum price for the Law Enforcement Building that is to be located on 290/281 across from Cattleman’s Bank in Johnson City.
Skaggs told the court that the price for the building would be $5,192,168. He continued with a cost summary and estimated construction time of 15 months from the start date, which has not been decided yet. Skaggs explained to the court that the price is estimated around 30 to 40 dollars a square foot below average. Templeton Construction has been over the bids and tried to stay as close to home as possible, giving the local contractors a chance to compete. They approached local contractors that did not have the low bid and allowed them to revisit their proposals. They almost all went down on their bids, making it an easy decision to stay local, with the exceptions of a few contracts that could not be bonded. They also made changes to the plumbing, saving the county around $24,000 by using PVC instead of the cast iron pipes that were in the original presentation.
After the presentation, Commissioner Sultemeier made the motion to accept the guaranteed maximum price and move forward with the project. The next step is for Templeton Construction and the County to approach the City with the building permits package.
The County was also advised to choose it’s own contractor to conduct construction materials testing for the Blanco County Annex project, and eventually the Law Enforcement Building. This would mean that the company would be working directly for the County and would answer to them. The County would be getting the answers they wanted and not the ones the contractors wanted them to hear; thus ensuring that the County was getting the quality work they are paying for. With this in consideration, the County then approved to hire Alpha Testing, who came in at around $20,000 in savings to the County as the other bid placed by Kleinfelder.
Keith Neffendorf supplied the Court with the annual audit report for the County. The County has total assets of $17 million with a debt of $6.8 million, leaving a net asset of $10 million. He said that the county is in good financial shape. Neffendorf then commended the Court on the hard work and dedication it takes to build up such revenues, comparing the present with a few years back.
Commissioner Granberg asked Mr. Neffendorf if they could explain to the public why the County has such a surplus, but is not considering lowering taxes. Mr. Neffendorf explained that Blanco County is running just as a business should. The County needs surplus to make it through the hard times and that a county as small as Blanco cannot rely on sales tax to make ends meet. He compared Blanco County to larger counties in the area that have had to raise taxes because the economy has brought their sales tax to an all time low. “Yes, there is a surplus, but the tax rate holds steady,” stated Mr. Neffendorf.
District Court Clerk Debby Elsbury and County Clerk Karen Newman approach the Court with a request of purchase of an archive appliance for permanent image storage for both offices. Elsbury stated that the current server is not at 90% capacity. The State requires that all permanent records be stored safely and according to standards set in place by the State. The new equipment will be attached to the current server and hold all the images stored on the server, which will take over 75% of the material that is currently on the server to make room for more data. The cost of the new appliance will be $10,274 with a $500 installation fee. “It’s my job to ensure the public that their records are being handled the proper way and that they will be here if ever they should need them,” concluded Elsbury. The Commissioner’s unanimously agreed to allow the clerk’s to purchase the equipment.
The meeting concludes with a photo at the construction site for the new annex building.