County approves $4.4 million energy project

BY STACI WILSON

The energy savings project in the county courthouse complex swings into high gear this week with the commissioners’ approval of about $4.4 million in upgrades to the heating and cooling systems.

Johnson Controls Inc. was slated to begin work July 23, the day the commissioners approved the performance contract. The work is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

The company gained the county’s approval for the contract subject to review by the solicitor, as well as some possible additions. Giangrieco mentioned including a mechanic’s lien as part of the package.

The energy savings project will address the heating and cooling challenges in the building – improving the infrastructure while reducing the costs to operate the buildings.

The initial focus will primarily be on converting the heating system from the antiquated coal fired boiler in the Warren Building of the courthouse to natural gas. The coal furnace provides uneven heating throughout the building, steaming up some office areas while others remain frosty.

Commissioner Michael Giangrieco said that in some cases, parts needed to fix the existing coal boiler have to be specially made in order to service the furnace.

Currently, Leatherstocking Gas Company is running natural gas distribution lines in Montrose which are expected to reach the courthouse complex before the heating season.

In addition to the Warren Building, the boilers in the courthouse and at the old jail will also be replaced, and the heating/cooling system problems in the buildings addressed as part of the project.

The $4-plus million prices will be paid out of the county’s general fund.

Commissioner Alan Hall said the upgrades are “absolutely necessary” and the county would realize about $4 million in savings over the next 20 years.

Johnson Controls performed similar projects at the Blue Ridge School District and in Bradford County. The Elk Lake School District is also in the midst of an energy savings project, which – like the courthouse complex project – will coincide with the conversion of the district’s heating fuel to natural gas.

The Blue Ridge study was completed about three years ago and realized above projected savings by increasing the energy efficiency of the lighting and building equipment.

Recycling Center

The commissioners are still looking for a buyer for the county recycling center and will re-advertise for requests for quotes for the consideration of privatizing the operation.

The request for quotes are due in the Chief Clerk’s office by Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 4 p.m.

The center was first put out to bid for sale in February, based on recommendations made by the consultant, Nestor Resources Inc., hired in 2013 to look into the feasibility of the county maintaining its recycling center.

In previous meetings, the commissioners have maintained that the center loses over $100,000 each year – and has cost the county nearly $1 million since it was built in the 1990s.

The commissioners cited equipment failures, building repairs, mounting financial losses and cuts in state funding as reasons to move the facility from public ownership.

Paving bid

Initially the commissioners rejected the one bid submitted Wednesday morning for the county’s proposed paving project on upper Monument Street; 88 Chenango; and at the Old Jail.

Hall said the bid was due in to the courthouse by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22; and that the 9 a.m. time listed in the advertisement was for the letting of the work.

However, a representative from the lone bidder – L&T Construction, of Binghamton, N.Y. – pointed out that the specs actually called for sealed bids to be received on or before 9 a.m., July 23.

The commissioners accepted the bid for review.

Giangrieco said that if it meets the specifications, it will be accepted by the county.

The county is offering up for sale a 2009 Ford E450 Transportation Bus, as is. The bus has 128,689 miles on it. Bids are due in the Chief Clerk’s office by 4 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 12; and will be opened for review at the Aug. 13 meeting.

Personnel

Elizabeth Karpov was hired as the Assistant Fiscal Officer, effective July, in the Dept. of Children and Youth.

The commissioners acknowledged the hiring of Elizabeth Speicher as the Judicial Law Clerk by President Judge Kenneth Seamans.

The commissioners also acknowledged the temporary hiring of three, part-time clerical workers in the treasurer’s office to process doe permits, effective July 14 until the doe permits are finished.

Salary Board

With the absence of one commissioner and the county treasurer, the salary board failed to establish a quorum.

Only one item appeared on the salary board agenda: the creation of a part-time position for an attorney in the Public Defender’s office, with a salary of $24,000 and not to exceed 15 hours per week.

With not enough elected officials present to vote, the salary board meeting adjourned with no action taken.