Members decide to send public safety complex project to bid
by Paige Rentz
After many weeks of back-and-forth on the best construction process, the Jacksonville City Council decided to send its long-awaited public safety complex project to bid for general contractors.

Council members voted Monday to rescind a resolution from July saying the city would use a construction manager for the project that will house the city’s new jail and police and fire departments. The city had been considering the fourth draft of a contract for construction management services from Birmingham-based firm Brasfield & Gorrie but rejected the proposal due primarily to cost.

“I’m not opposed to the process,” Mayor Johnny Smith said of construction management, “but it’s just that 1.3 million is the thing that deterred me.”

The contract called for $1.3 million in construction management fees added to the construction cost estimated at between $10 million and $15 million.

“I’m ready to move on,” said Councilman Truman Norred, who was previously leaning toward hiring Brasfield & Gorrie by a slim margin. Now, he said, conversations with experts in the construction field and a two-and-a-half hour meeting of the project construction committee to review the contract have him 100 percent committed to bidding the project to a general manager.

Councilman Jerry Parris said the council’s delay in acting on the construction management firm takes away some of the primary benefit from the construction management process.

“If we did go with the construction manager we wouldn’t get very much bang for our buck in the pre-construction phase,” he said, “and that’s where they say they really save the most money.”

“I think this really speeds up the process now,” said Council President Mark Jones, who was the lone member of the council who thought hiring Brassfield & Gorrie, which he called a reputable firm, “would be money well spent.”

But he also saw the drawbacks to the construction manager route, primarily the delay it would cause in breaking ground as the firm reviewed the project plans with the architects.

With the decision made to bid out the project, the council also approved an architect’s schematic design from Sept. 19 and issued the firm a notice to proceed with the next design phase and production of construction documents. Once the document packet is complete, the city can bid out the project.

Ken Funderburk of Merchant Capital, the city’s finance firm for the project, addressed the council early in the meeting. He encouraged the council members to act quickly in order to have a project cost for which to seek financing in the current market since interest rates are extremely low.

In other business, the council:

• Considered an ordinance that would amend the chapters of the city code related to lodging tax.

• Approved two library grant applications to the Alabama Public Library Service, one for $4,500 to replace eight computers and one to create three early literacy stations. The city’s match for the grants, which would be paid by the library, would be $1,125 and $3,502, respectively.

• Appointed a Special Event Food Truck Committee to draft an ordinance to permit and regulate the operation of mobile food vendors in city limits during special events only.

• Appointed Richard Rhea as the city prosecutor, effective Dec. 19.

• Appointed Derek Raulerson as the city’s Alabama Community of Excellence coordinator.

• Appointed Joy Cox to the Cleburne-Calhoun County Mental Health Board.

• Appointed Lamar Sims, Scott Exum, Jamie “Red” Etheredge, Jay Dill and David Glass to the Industrial Development Board.

• Rescheduled the next City Council meeting from Dec. 24 to Dec. 20 at 6 p.m.

• Accepted the resignation of utility equipment operator Kevin Spoon, effective Nov. 28 and requested a list of eligible applicants for his position from the Civil Service Board.

• Approved the employment of Steven T. Gilliland and Kyle R. Glover as Firefighter/EMTs, effective Dec. 26.

• Awarded the city’s wholesale gasoline and diesel fuel to Jack Green Oil Company of Oxford.

• Awarded the bid for a high pressure gas tap at the hospital lift station to S.J. Patterson Company of Talladega.

Star Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
© 2012