Jacksonville authorizes $12.75M to build safety complex
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
The city of Jacksonville is preparing to borrow $12.75 million to pay for its proposed public safety complex, which will house a new police and fire department and possibly city hall.

The City Council authorized Mayor Johnny Smith to negotiate a $12.75 million bond issue through Merchant Capital to fund the construction of the project and any other capital projects that may arise.

“We decided to go ahead and make a decision about how much money we want to borrow because interest rates are so low,” Mayor Johnny Smith said. “We just don’t see how they could possibly go much lower and are afraid they may start creeping back up.”

Ken Funderburk of Merchant Capital visited the city council at last week’s meeting to urge the city to move quickly to take advantage of the current bond market.

The council also voted to advertise for the position of a project manager to oversee construction. This decision comes after months of back-and-forth on whether to hire a construction management firm or opt for the more traditional design-bid model with a general contractor. After rescinding a July resolution to hire a construction manager, the council decided last week to bid the project out and will now hire a project manager to, as Council President Mark Jones put it, “see that our interests are considered.”

Part of the appeal among city officials of using a construction manager had been to control costs on the city’s behalf, but the $1.3 million price tag from the proposed firm helped the City Council decide against it.

Smith said city officials feel like “we don’t really have the expertise here in the city to manage a project of that size, that it might be worth it to hire an individual whose job would just be to see this project through.”

The mayor said the project manager would be a contract employee for the duration of the project, likely 15 to 18 months.

The project manager, he said, would “have no other interest in this project except for the city’s interest. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Jones said Thursday’s action “helps to continue us moving toward getting something done, and I think it was a wise move.’

In other business, the council

• Approved an ordinance to raise the city’s lodging tax rate by one percentage point, from 4 percent to 5 percent.

• Passed a resolution in support of the petition to the Alabama Legislature to give the city’s librarian civil service employee status.

• Authorized the purchase of $4,259 in basketball uniforms from B & S Sporting Goods by the Parks and Recreation Department; $8,000 for the purchase and installation of two in-car camera systems for the Police Department and for the Fire Department; $4,144 to Ronnie Watkins Ford for repair estimates on Medic 1 vehicle; and $3,825 to North American Fire Equipment Co. for supplies.

• Approved public works project no.162 for gas valve repair and maintenance and awarded System Valve Services of Lincolnton, N.C. the contract at a cost not to exceed $10,000.

• Approved the appointment of Timothy B. King to the Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health Board for a term ending June 2018.

• Approved the new position and job description of lead utility equipment operator and requested the Civil Service Board for a list of eligible applicants for the position from within the Waterworks, Gas and Sewer Board Department.

• Approved the new position and job description of lab technician at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and requested the Civil Service Board for a list of eligible applicants for the position from within the Waterworks, Gas and Sewer Board Department.

• Requested the Civil Service Board for a list of eligible applicants for the position of utility maintenance assistant, due to the resignation of Russell Johnson.
© 2012