Commissioners approve COA’s renovation project in Marion

REED CITY — After months of crunching numbers, searching for grant funds and adding and subtracting different facets within the renovation plan, the Osceola County Commission on Aging can begin work on a building in Marion for a meal site and activities.

The Board of Commissioners narrowly approved a revised bid for $273,721 from Steve Jones Construction for the project during its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Osceola County Courthouse. Commissioners Roger Elkins, Larry Emig, Jill Halladay and Mark Gregory voted to accept the bid for the project, while Commissioners Alan Tiedt, Pam Wayne and Jack Nehmer voted no.

Over the last few months, COA Director Scott Schryer has come to the board seeking them approval of the bid so work can begin on a building purchased in April 2015. Initial projections of the renovation cost were nearly $100,000 less than what the bids were when they arrived. Officials asked Schyrer to seek out additional grant opportunities or find other ways to bring the cost of the project down.

On Tuesday, Schryer and Bob Van Putten of Landmark Design Group discussed the matter again with the Committee of the Whole, whittling the $286,000 bid from Steve Jones Construction down to the $273,721 for the renovation project, with the company working to take out certain features, such as some vinyl siding and non-slide fiberglass for an entrance and floor finish, while keeping others, such as a canopy over the entryway.

“The national average for renovations is $143 per square foot,” Schryer told commissioners. “The state is around $139 per square foot. With the full bid of $286,000, we’re looking at $120 per square foot. To take it down to what we have with the total of $273,721, it would cost $114 per square foot.

Wayne said she was hesitant to rush into anything, especially when she felt more work needed to be done to bring the cost down.

“We might need to send bids out again and see if they come in lower,” she said. “It’s way too much money for me right now.

“I understand the bids are where they are at. I’m upset that it’s not anywhere near what we first talked about.”

Gregory said officials were not going to find a better price than that, especially for a project this size.

“I don’t know how to cut anything else out of it,” he said.

Emig added he believes the project will meet a need for seniors in the Marion area.

“I believe this is one case where if you build it, they will come,” he said. “With the cost per square foot, we’re not going to get any better. If we take bids out again, we’re taking our chances in hoping we will get something lower.”

Other items brought before the Committee of the Whole and approved by the Board of Commissioners included:

  • Osceola County EMS to purchase the Physio Control Health EMS software for a five-year contract to handle billing practices. The new system will take time to build and train employees and will take about a year to put in place.
  • Osceola County EMS to terminate its contract with Fleeteyes for EMS vehicle tracking system and begin a new agreement with Verizon, which EMS Director Jeremy Beebe said was half the cost.
  • Appointment of Peggy Graham to the county’s planning commission.

Commissioners also approved an amended apportionment report from equalization director Rosie McKinstry. The report indicates tax rates throughout the different municipalities in Osceola County. The amendment included the results of the general election results from Orient Township voters approving a road millage.