Mercer County will renovate courthouse this summer

May 12, 2004|ANN HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Renovation of the Mercer County Courthouse costing more than $165,000 will get under way soon.

Vance Mitchell of the state Administrative Office of the Courts told the Fiscal Court Tuesday morning that the work will have to begin before June 30, the end of the current fiscal year, if it is to be paid for mostly with AOC monies.

Mitchell estimated the work, which includes replacing the flat part of the roof where the clock tower sits, will cost about $149,000.

However, an option of replacing the entire roof adds almost $21,000 to the total price. The flat portion will be replaced with a new membrane roof while the front and back parts will get a new shingled roof.


The low bids on some other portions of work came in under Mitchell's estimates. Nevertheless, Mitchell said he believes he will be able to come up with the additional $16,164 needed for all of the projects to be completed. AOC will not pay for all of the renovation.

The state courts occupy 81 percent of the building and will therefore pay for 81 percent of the work in the projects that the county shares with the courts, such as the roof.

However, 100 percent of some projects, like painting or repair in courtrooms, will be paid for by AOC. Mitchell said the county will be responsible for $15,000-18,000 of the project.

Mitchell told the court that he has been trying to get some of this work done for several years, but AOC did not have the money to pay for the work. He said his supervisors told him that money is likely to be even tighter in the coming fiscal year, and he should try to do the work this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Some of the work is needed because of leaks in the roof, including problems in the district courtroom on the first floor.

"If there's a leak in this building, I'm going to find it," Mitchell said when County Attorney Douglas Greenburg asked about the courtroom. "I'm not going to make any repairs until we fix the roof leaks."

One major part of the project will be work on the second-floor courtroom that houses Mercer Circuit Court. Mitchell says he has pictures of the old courtroom and hopes to replace the judge's bench with something similar to the old bench. However, he has no information about the seats in the courtroom, he said.

"This is a historic county, and this is a historic building," Mitchell said. The Stanford resident said he will check on the work on his way to Frankfort.

Once again, Greenburg pointed out that the acoustics in that courtroom make it very difficult to hear what's going on. The old courtroom gave an echo to most speech.

While it is not part of the $60,000 in the project earmarked for repairs and replacement to the courtroom, Mitchell said AOC will replace both audio and video systems in the room.

Work in the courtroom includes:

n New carpet in both the courtroom and jury room;

n Sanding and refinishing hardwood floors;

n Repair and replacement of drywall and plaster that is damaged;

n Removal and replacement of the railing and public seating;

n Painting of all of the walls, and

n Installation of swinging doors between public seating and the trial area.

In the balcony of the courtroom, work will include:

n Tearing out the existing plaster ceiling and replacing it with drywall;

n Sanding and refinishing hardwood floors, and

n Relocating existing theater seating and removing damaged units.

The second most expensive part of the project is the electric portion of the building. Commercial Electric of Harrodsburg submitted the low bid of $52,800 to update the electrical service, remove cloth wiring and install new wiring throughout the building, replace exterior dusk lights with more historical-looking fixtures and replace the lighting in the clock tower.

Most of the work will be done by S&P Carpets of Richmond, a company Mitchell said has expanded past replacing floor coverings. The company submitted the low bids in seven of the nine bid packages. The roof work will be done by Masen Inc. of Berea.

Larry Denny of the Kentucky Association of Counties was at the meeting to discuss the insurance rates for the upcoming fiscal year and laughingly said renovating the courthouse will add value to the historic building and might have an impact on future insurance premiums.

Denny presented figures for the upcoming fiscal year's insurance premiums. The premium covering assets and liability insurance is up about 8 percent, or $5,059. He said the reasons for the increase was the addition of three more vehicles the county will insure, although the value of the vehicles has dropped. Liability insurance for law enforcement and auto liability have risen.

Worker's compensation will go up 14 percent or $5,665. The overall rate increase is 17 percent, Denny said, but Mercer County's experience modification factor is lower than most counties.

The court gave first reading to the proposed $6.3 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Mercer County Judge-Executive John Trisler said a 20 percent increase for health insurance had been factored into the budget, but on Monday he was informed the county's health insurance will go up 32 percent. He wants to discuss the possibility of raising the policy's deductibles as a way of raising some of the shortfall.

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