Unexpected expense

By Lillian Bowe
Staff writer
lbowe@pntonline.com

The estimated cost to repair the Roosevelt County Courthouse’s air conditioning system exceeds the initial quote county commissioners were given and they are not happy.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, the project manager of Williamson Renovations, Dennis Geshel, reported the project cost is expected to total $2.9 million, nearly $1 million more than the commission anticipated paying.

Joshua Lucero: Staff photo The Roosevelt County Courthouse has had to use fans and a portable air conditioning unit (pictured) to cool the building while the HVAC system has been out of commission due to its age. Many of the courthouse offices will be moved to portable trailers in the parking lot temporarily when the new HVAC system is installed.

Joshua Lucero: Staff photo
The Roosevelt County Courthouse has had to use fans and a portable air conditioning unit (pictured) to cool the building while the HVAC system has been out of commission due to its age. Many of the courthouse offices will be moved to portable trailers in the parking lot temporarily when the new HVAC system is installed.

The new estimate shocked many of the commissioners, including Commission Chairman Kendell Buzard, who said it raised some red flags for him to see such an increase.

“This is a huge discrepancy from what we talked about,” Buzard said.

The board met with Geshel earlier in the month to discuss the estimated cost of installing the system.

The repair of the HVAC system is a preventive measure after eight types of mold were discovered in the 76-year-old courthouse by a private lab consultant. Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Webb said it’s a necessary project because the system is old.

Geshel met with engineers and architects to discuss the installation after he told the commission the estimated cost. They found out installing the system will cost more than estimated and the time for the installation has increased to nine months.

“They underestimated the components to the HVAC system,” Webb said.

Geshel said the costs also increased due to the state’s Construction Industry Division, because of added regulations and permits to the portable offices the courthouse offices will be moving into while the HVAC system is being installed.

The county was going to use two trailers for the offices, but the CID’s regulations required three due to the amount of employees moving out of the courthouse.

The cost of having the trailers in the parking lot of the courthouse for nine months will be anywhere between $400,000 to $500,000 according to Geshel.

“It was a mistake to make an estimate so early,” Geshel said.

At the last commission meeting the county submitted an application to the New Mexico Financial Authority for a loan that would not exceed $2 million for the HVAC system and electrical engineering.

Webb said she is currently looking for financing options to pay for the rest.

“I am looking at loans with local banks and the New Mexico Financial Authority, but the finance authority will probably be the cheapest,” Webb said.