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Special tax renovation funding sought for Dougherty County facilities

County approves funding for jail security system upgrade

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard prepares for Monday’s commission meeting at the downtown Government Center. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard prepares for Monday’s commission meeting at the downtown Government Center. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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Dougherty County Extension Coordinator James Morgan makes his quarterly report to the Dougherty County Commission Monday morning. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Even as the Dougherty County Commission approved $569,200 in funding for improvements to the security system at the Dougherty County Jail Monday morning, its members were pondering earlier requests for allocations of more special tax money for renovations at the county mental health facility, the Northwest Library branch and the Riverfront Resource Center.

The jail security upgrade includes a $452,800 base bid from Montgomery Technology Systems and additional alternates of $44,400 for exterior cameras and $72,000 for a three-year extension of the system’s warranty. Architect David Maschke said he hopes to coordinate the security installation work with work on the jail roof, which is scheduled to begin soon.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis said the county was caught by a time crunch on renovations for the Dougherty County Mental Health Facility and recommended that the commission accept the $481,577 bid by Newell Construction of Albany even though it was the only bid received on the project.

“We could rebid the project, but the state is looking at us now, wondering why we aren’t finishing this project up,” Crowdis said. “We let this slip up on us; I take full responsibility for that. But Newell Construction has done satisfactory work for us in the past, and there is a reason the other contractors (who expressed interest in the project) didn’t bid on it.

“If we didn’t have a time limit, we’d probably go back out for bids in a case like this. Fortunately, we have funds available for this major renovation.”

The discussion was sparked by District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson when he was told by project architect Bruce Richards that the bid came in $81,000 above his $400,000 estimate.

The renovations required by the state include upgrades to 20 patient restrooms and two public restrooms and work on sprinkler heads in the facility. Albany Area Service Board CFO David Baranko said sprinkler heads must be recessed into the facility’s ceilings as a suicide prevention measure.

Crowdis also recommended reallocation of some special-purpose local-option sales tax funds to bring the level of available SPLOST funding set aside for replacing the roof of the Northwest Library up to the needed $750,000. The county had been counting on state grant money for the project, but it never materialized.

Johnson and District 2 Commissioner John Hayes questioned the reallocation of some $38,000 in SPLOST funding set aside for improvements at the now-closed Southside Library branch, but Library Director Pauline Abidde said she’d been assured by Crowdis that if the branch is re-opened, funding would be available for any needed improvements.

Facilities Management Director Dwayne Greene told the board some $60,000 is needed for improvements to the historic Candy Room at the Riverfront Resource Center on Pine Avenue. Greene said heavy rains had exposed the need for repairs.

“Rains this year have revealed some chinks we hadn’t anticipated,” Greene said, noting that work would be needed on a parapet wall, on the roof of the structure and on window sills.

Crowdis suggested reallocating $100,000 from the $3.38 million the county has set aside for construction of a tennis center. That project, which has lain dormant for years, has resurfaced with the city’s plan to build a new sports complex. The county is expected to use its SPLOST funding to build a tennis center at the city complex.

The county also approved an alcohol license request by Ulysee James for Club Parisians at 1900 Liberty Expressway and heard a quarterly report from County Extension Coordinator James Morgan. Morgan introduced new 4-H Program Assistant Dawn Feller.