Davison County budget takes hitSlower-than-expected building renovation results in lost rental fees.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Auditor Susan Kiepke told the Davison County commissioners Tuesday at the courthouse that renovation plans for the recently acquired Central Electric building at 1420 N. Main St. will have an unexpected effect on the 2013 county budget.
“It will have a huge impact as far as rental and construction fees go,” she said.
Kiepke said the budget was planned with the understanding the community health nurses would be in a renovated space by the end of this year, but that won’t happen until well into next year. No budget plans were made to account for that.
The commissioners originally earmarked $675,000 for the purchase and renovation of the building — $575,000 for the building and $100,000 for renovation.
An early estimate supplied by Puetz Corp. placed the cost of the renovation alone, with architectural services included, at $261,700. The building will be shared by the community health nurses and the commissioners.
Kiepke said the commissioners also will have to approve a contingency transfer to continue covering the $2,500 monthly rent at the nurses’ current office while the Main Street building is being renovated.
The official closing date on the building was Nov. 6 — months later than anticipated. The closing was delayed by environmental testing and cleanup, and wrangling over an insurance settlement for roof damage caused by the May 5 hailstorm. The latter will be covered by Central Electric’s insurance and will not be a county expense.
Commission Chairman John Claggett said Tuesday that it looks like late spring or early summer 2013 is the earliest the building will be ready for occupancy.
The commissioners last week directed Mark Puetz to draw up agreements for construction management and architectural services. The understanding was that the commissioners would sign those agreements at this week’s meeting.
Kiepke was surprised to learn that commissioners skipped procedure and signed the contracts last week. The full board of commissioners acted retroactively and approved those signed contracts on Tuesday.
Puetz Corp. will be the construction manager-at-risk for the project. That means Puetz Corp. will assume complete responsibility for handling project details, from bidding to overseeing contractors. The company has handled similar projects for the Mitchell School District and for Mitchell Technical Institute.
Mark Puetz said all construction documents will be ready to go to bid by mid-February and bids will be opened in early March. He estimated construction will take two to three months. He said some early excavation work could be started prior to the end of the year to lessen the project’s impact on the 2013 budget.
Highway manpower shortage
Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg told the commissioners that his department has eight motor graders and only six employees to man the machines.
“Come winter we won’t have enough manpower to run graders and plows,” he said.
One worker recently died from a non-work-related heart attack, and another is on medical leave.
On Tuesday, the commissioners gave Weinberg permission to advertise for a full-time worker at a starting rate of $12.50 an hour, depending on experience. He said the county has had few applications for past jobs since salaries are higher elsewhere.
John Geidel, who formerly split his time between the Highway Department and duties as the county weed supervisor, has moved full-time to the Highway Department. Weinberg said he has been unable to find a worker to handle spraying duties.
“We didn’t even get an application,” he said.
Pointing out another budget flaw, Kiepke noted that Weinberg and the commissioners have not budgeted for the manpower needed because of Geidel’s transfer.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners:
• Were at full-strength on Tuesday with the presence of Commissioner Jerry Fischer, who returned to work after missing seven consecutive meetings. Fischer said he is still slowly recovering from September knee replacement surgery, but he is improving daily.
• Held a closed executive session with State’s Attorney Pat Smith and Jim Miskimins, Smith’s recently appointed successor, regarding Jailer’s Union negotiations. No post-meeting action was taken. Negotiations are in the early stages, Smith said.
• Signed an agreement with the Hanson Rural Water District to install a digital radio repeater on the Ethan water tower. The repeater will give sheriff’s deputies better reception when using handheld radios. The commission also authorized payment of $1,681.45 to Sioux Falls Two Way Radio Service to install the repeater.
• Heard from Chief Deputy Steve Brink, who said his department is looking to get a new police-equipped Ford SUV from Vern Eide Motorcars for about $26,558. He was told to return next week with more precise figures.
• Sitting as the Board of Adjustment, approved a lot size variance for Carla Schuldt for a farmstead of 9.2 acres, in the agricultural zone for family property in Prosper Township. Homes in the ag zone typically require plats of 25 acres.
• Approved three plats, as recommended by the county planning and zoning commission.
• Set 9:30 a.m. Dec.18 as the time and date for a supplemental budget hearing.