"We have the schematic design finished, the design documents and the contract documents (are finished)," County Judge Charles Willett told Justices of the Peace. "They are all sitting (at the USDA office in Harrison) for reviews. They were working on them today (Oct. 15), to try to take them to Little Rock tomorrow (Oct. 16) to go before their architects in Little Rock."
That is good news because, as soon as plans are reviewed and approved, a closing date can be set to obtain USDA grants and loans to build the jail, and work can begin to seek bids on the long delayed project.
The bad news is, the county's jail architect wants to be paid.
"He (Sprit Architects) has gone though all that (planning process) and, he has invoiced us for $93,062," Willett said.
Quorum Court members were shocked to learn the architect expects payment before USDA funding has been made to the county.
"I thought we reimburse, only if, only if it (the loan) closes," JP Jack Haney said.
Some JPs were under the same impression, that the architect was putting the jail construction proposal together, and would be paid only if and when the project was approved by the USDA.
Others believed that $15,000 was the total amount the county would owe if the project was not approved.
"Dwayne (County Attorney Dwayne Plumlee) looked at the contact," Willett said, "he looked at his contract and said it was payable to him (the architect)."
A check of records from past meetings show that, when South- Build, a jail design-build specialist, was approved in May by Quorum Court to replace the original firm hired to design the jail, SouthBuild agreed to accept a maximum of $15,000 to prepare preliminary designs and seek USDA approval to handle the project. That is the total amount the company would be paid if the USDA did not approve its involvement.
In July, after USDA approval was given, Quorum Court was presented with a bill for $9,200 for what Judge Willett called "architect fees to this point."
JP Jack Haney immediately asked, "Is this in addition to what we already approved?"
"No," Judge Willett replied, saying there was $10,000 left of the $15,000 approved to pay the architect, and the money would be reimbursed to the county, when it received USDA funding.
"They (SouthBuild) said, if we didn't get the project (USDA approval), we would have to pay them $15,000," JP Jim Bicker asked in July to make sure a new appropriation was not being requested.
"10,000. This is what he has done so far," Willett said, seeming to indicate $10,000 was left of the $15,000 maximum appropriated.
JPs have never looked at or approved a contract with the architect, even though one has apparently been signed obligating to pay all architectural costs.
"We don't have $93,000 to pay," JP Jim Bicker said of the October bill now on the table.
While JPs seemed to favor delaying payment until loan money was received, Judge Willett said, "If we have to make corrections (on the submitted plans) and we don't pay them, in my opinion, they may not do them (plan changes).
After further discussion, JPs suggested that Judge Willett contact the firm and see what type of payment plan can be worked out.
In other business, Willett told JPs that the State Highway Department was planning to build a new Fulton County shop, and had inquired as to whether the county would consider selling land it owns on Highway 395 in front of the shirt factory building, which now houses American Polishing.
JPs expressed an interest in getting the property appraised, and establishing a price to see if the state was interested in a purchase. The state highway facility is currently located at the edge of the Salem Cemetery, on Highway Nine South.
JPs also authorized the Tax Collector's office to spend $1,833 on a paper folding machine, to speed up the process of sending out tax bills. Acting Collector Fay Tomlinson said the office had been looking for a machine for two years, and the one being purchased is a good machine at a reasonable price. The office will use its state funds for the purchase.
The Sheriff's Department and Emergency Management office have been approved for $36,900 in Homeland Security grants, which JPs voted to accept.
Because the next regular meeting falls on Veteran's Day, JPs decided to move their November meeting to Monday, Nov. 19, at 6:00 p.m., a week later than usual.
At the November meeting, the court will begin discussions on a 2013 budget.