Commission broaches idea of Tower demolitionThe Davison County Commission took the first steps Tuesday that could eventually end the financial bleeding at the Tower Building — the old Methodist Hospital at the county’s Miller Avenue public safety complex. After hearing the latest building condition report, the commissioners directed county Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml to research demolition costs.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Davison County Commission took the first steps Tuesday that could eventually end the financial bleeding at the Tower Building — the old Methodist Hospital at the county’s Miller Avenue public safety complex.
After hearing the latest building condition report, the commissioners directed county Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml to research demolition costs.
The condition report listed the following repair or replacement items:
- Boiler replacement, per a June 2008 quote: $270,700. The main boiler proved balky over the Christmas holiday period. Certification on the building’s backup boiler runs out this fall.
- Fourth floor roof replacement: $200,000. This amount does not include roofing some smaller areas at lower levels.
- Elevator repair and update: Between $50,000 to $100,000.
A new elevator will cost about $250,000.
- Mold removal and cleanup: $100,000.
- Depending on future use, a new fire sprinkler system may also be needed and doors, windows and some plumbing must also be installed, repaired or replaced.
The list presented to the commissioners Tuesday didn’t note typically high utility costs. The December 2008 bill for heating the Tower Building was nearly $10,000.
The litany of capital expenditures didn’t sit well with Commissioner David Weitala.
“It is a white elephant,” he said. “Even if we replace the boiler we’ve still got an old building and it’s not getting any newer.”
Ruml said after the meeting, “You could spend $1 million on that building and not even touch the inside.” Plumbing and other updates also would be required, he said.
Tearing off a few upper floors — one previously discussed option — would be equally expensive, said Commissioner Gerald Weiss.
While no plans have been developed, the building was seen as a possible home for a county juvenile detention facility. The Tower Building is currently being used by the county community health nurses, the state drivers’ license bureau, county maintenance offices and for assorted storage.
Commission Chairman Jerry Fischer said, “We’ve got to have a good plan before we start to go in any direction.” If demolition becomes a reality, homes would have to be found for the current tenants. Fischer said the county also must decide if it wants to proceed with the planning of a juvenile facility.
After further discussion, Fischer told Ruml to check into demolition costs.
Commissioner John Claggett said the county might be eligible for some favorable financing in the current bond market, if the commissioners decide in favor of a replacement structure.
If the building eventually is torn down, said Fischer, there could be multiple hidden costs. One of those is the cost of asbestos abatement. State regulations require the inspection of a public building for asbestos prior to demolition. If asbestos is found, it must be removed prior to demolition.
In other business, commissioners acknowledged the value of on-call responsibilities by authorizing a $20-a-day on-call premium for the county’s five deputy sheriffs. Each deputy is regularly assigned to on-call status, said Sheriff Dave Miles, but they receive no compensation unless they are actually called to duty.
While they are technically off-duty, the deputies can’t leave the area or pursue other personal interests while they are on on-call status.
Taylor said Department of Labor regulations regarding on-call status are vague as the rule applies to law enforcement, but he also noted that on-call pay policies are part of many law departments.
Deputies are typically on call five to seven days a month, Miles said. He said the extra pay acknowledges that the county values its deputies and the modest payment will increase morale.
“Our workload is growing and this economy is not making things any easier,” he said.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners:
- Heard from Civil Deputy Kathye Fouberg, who reported that of 49 distress warrants issued for 2008 taxes on mobile homes in the county, 30 owners have since paid their taxes in full, seven owners are making tax payments and 12 properties will be advertised for sale at public tax auction. Fouberg said the economic downturn has pinched residents and owners of mobile dwellings.
- Approved expenses for Auditor Susan Kiepke to attend the annual auditor’s workshop April 8-9 in Pierre.
- Approved a $2,146 bid for the annual state-required certification inspection of the fire alarm system at the county Public Safety Building.
- Gave notice of intent to purchase a refrigerator for the county highway shop from one of two local Mitchell appliance dealers. Both dealerships had identical bids of $499. The commissioners declared their intent to purchase from the company with the best warranty.
- Declined a $810 reimbursement request from Palace Builders. The amount was paid as part of a surety bond issued for roofing work at the Public Safety Building. Such a bond ensures that a contractor will pay for all materials and labor on a project. Deputy State’s Attorney Taylor, in a written opinion, said the county is not responsible for the bond premium incurred by Palace Builders “and is under no legal obligation to make such payment.”