Public safety building construction contract hits snag over funding

Montgomery County legislators awarded four contracts Tuesday in connection with the new public safety building, but the biggest and most controversial one will have to wait for a special meeting before it can be executed.

All four contracts–electrical and fire alarm, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and general construction, were tabled at last month’s meeting. Legislators said they wanted to meet with representatives from the general construction firm to explain their bid, which was the lowest but still over budget by $426,000.

Three of the contracts awarded by legislators were as follows:

  • Electrical and fire alarm, Brunswick Electric of Troy, $389,500
  • HVAC, Campito Plumbing and Heating of Latham, $334,874
  • Plumbing, Mazzone Plumbing of Saddle Brook, NJ, $99,440

The general construction contract, budgeted at $3.5 million, instead came in at $3,926,032.78. Legislators balked at that figure at their last meeting and asked representatives to come to Tuesday’s meeting and explain the numbers. Rich Campagnola of CT Male Associates and David Danforth of Turner Construction Corp. came to Tuesday’s session, but legislators were not satisfied with some of their answers.

“The market is very busy right now,” Danforth said. “As we budget, we try to accommodate that. We try to achieve what you want with a dollar figure that’s in line. We didn’t want to change the design.”

District 6 Legislator John Duchessi pressed both representatives for more concrete information.

“I’m looking for something more specific as to why you’re almost 25 percent off [the budgeted amount],” he said. “I have no confidence in any of you.”

Legislators awarded the general construction contract to Turner Construction Corp., but it cannot be signed and executed until a $426,000 transfer is made from the county’s fund balance. The transfer requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature, or six positive votes, but received only five. Duchessi and District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek voted no, and Legislature Chairman Martin Kelly and District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond were absent.

County Executive Matthew Ossenfort expressed concern about the prospect of any delay in moving forward with the new building, citing unsafe conditions in the Annex Building and the need to move employees into the new structure as soon as possible.

“Tonight is a very clear decision–do we build it or do we not build it?” he said. “We have spent millions of dollars on that [Annex] building. The boiler could go this year or next year. There are plumbing issues and electrical issues. Duct tape is holding down the carpets. There is asbestos.”

Ossenfort said he will reach out to Kelly to ask him to schedule a special meeting as soon as possible to approve the transfer of money.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.