Centerville awards $1.6 million public works facility bid

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C.T. Darnell Construction, of Alpharetta, will build the city’s new public works facility for $1.6 million.

City Council members awarded the bid Tuesday for the complex that will be built on Elberta Road. It will serve as administrative headquarters and provide warehouse and vehicle depot space.

The council did not award the bid to the lowest bidder.

Mike Brumfield, the city’s director of operations and head of the Public Works Department, told the council a low bid of $1.5 million was not recommended by the project’s architects, WM2A Architects of Macon, because it did meet all bid-project requirements.

The council voted unanimously to accept the recommended $1.6 million bid.

“It’s more than we had originally planned but we need to do this,” said Councilman Cameron Andrews. “It’s been needed for a long time and there are EPA issues (the facility will solve). It will be a huge improvement.”

Andrews said the facility will improve work conditions and capabilities for public works employees just as a new headquarters building has done for the city’s police department.

He said a new structure for the fire department is on the horizon and will be built if the city continues “to be careful” how it budgets and spends taxpayer dollars.

Andrews was referring to a positive annual audit report the city just received from Warner Robins accounting firm Nichols, Cauley & Associates. The report gave the city a financial clean bill of health and commendations on its budgeting procedures and spending oversight.

Beth Tabor, of Nichols, Cauley & Associates, told council members the city received an “unmodified” and “clean opinion” on the audit, terms referring to it reaching high standards.

She said the city has a nine-month reserve of funds it could operate on should it encounter the need through financial difficulty. She said city officials have a target of keeping a six-month reserve on hand.

Mayor John Harley said he and the council will “ponder” the report in days to come and also commended city employees for their work in helping keep tabs on spending.

Also during the council’s Tuesday work session, Capt. Charles Hadden, acting head of the city’s police department, told members of plans to purchase hard-plate armor and patrol rifles for officers. The items will be carried in patrol vehicles.

Hadden said he intends to buy 18 hard-armor units, each having a hard plate front and back. He said the armor would go on over officer’s soft armor that is always worn. The hard armor will only be used in emergencies such as active shooter situations.

He said he planned to buy eight rifles to equip officers who don’t currently have them.

Hadden said the cost is just over $10,000. He said there is at least $3,000 on hand and other funding sources are being sought. He said the cost will likely rise due to the need to effectively securing the items in “trunks” of officer vehicles.

Hadden said he was looking for the most economical though not the “cheapest” equipment. He said he expected to have a full quote in January.

“I just feel better knowing I did everything I could to protect our guys,” Hadden said of the planned purchase.

While questioning Hadden thoroughly about the armor and the weapons, members of council voiced agreement they were needed and that city officer’s safety was paramount.

In other matters, the council:

▪  Approved funds for sidewalk projects for Woodhaven Road and Willow Glen at a cost of $218,425, most of which will be paid for by grants. Centerville’s portion will be $69,625;

▪  Gave final approval and agreement with Houston County that it will pay operating costs for new streetlights within the city that the county is installing along Carl Vinson Parkway. Monthly operating costs are said to be $428.