Public safety building project moves ahead

At a special meeting Tuesday, Montgomery County legislators voted to take $426,000 from the county’s fund balance to help pay for the construction contract for the new public safety building.

Legislators awarded the construction contract to Turner Construction Co. of Albany at last week’s regular meeting, even though Turner’s bid of $3,926,032.78 exceeded the county’s budgeted amount by $426,000. At that meeting, legislators did not approve the additional funding for the contract, which made Tuesday’s special session necessary.

Tuesday’s vote to approve taking $426,000 from the fund balance was 7-1; District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek voted no and District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz was absent.

Bieniek said he voted no because he didn’t want to take the money from the fund balance.

“Our fund balance is projected to be just under $5 million,” Bieniek said. “I’d rather see us cut another capital project. We should try to live within our means.”

County Executive Matthew Ossenfort praised legislators Tuesday for approving the construction contract, the last of four needed to begin work on the building.

“The legislators recognized the importance of the project,” he said. “We’ve paid the price for kicking the can down the road.”

The new building would house several county departments currently located in the Annex Building. Ossenfort said last week that the Annex Building has plumbing and electrical problems and the building’s boiler could stop working at any time. Asbestos and mold present additional potential health problems, he said.

Legislators awarded three contracts for electrical, plumbing and other work at last week’s regular meeting.

With the construction contract now in place, Ossenfort said he hopes the new building would be ready to open as early as the end of March 2016.

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.