County to make upgrades, but not with Perfection Group

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By Calen McKinney

The county still wants to do some upgrades at its courthouse, but it likely won't be with Perfection Group after all.

Last Tuesday, magistrates unanimously voted to end its ongoing negotiations with the company and, instead, resubmit the project for bids.

But this time, magistrates decided, they won't require that energy savings be part of the proposal.

There has been discussion amongst magistrates for months about spending money to repair the county's heating and cooling system, which some say they believe isn't broken.

The county's history with Perfection Group dates back to January. That was when the company approached magistrates and asked them to allow its representatives to perform an energy savings performance audit of county-owned buildings. Perfection Group representatives said the audit would determine whether the company could help the county could save money on its utility costs and, at the same time, get some new heating and cooling equipment.

In April, magistrates agreed to advertise for bids for energy savings contracts. The bid contained a clause that the contract must include ways the county can reduce its energy costs. Perfection Group was the only company to submit a proposal.

Last month, magistrates agreed to spend $1.4 million with Perfection Group to do their proposed project. In the contract the company proposed, the county is guaranteed to save about $22,000 a year for the next 15 years in energy savings.

But later in the month, when magistrates were asked to formally sign the contract, they changed their minds and decided to only do repairs at the Taylor County Courthouse.

Last week, when Perfection Group representatives came with a scaled-down contract for signatures, magistrates voted to end negotiations with the company and advertise for bids once again.

To begin the discussion, County Attorney John Bertram said he has received an updated contract and it includes only work done at the courthouse.

But before Bertram could elaborate further, Magistrate Ed Gorin said he wants to make a motion. He said he wants to discontinue talks with Perfection Group.

Perfection Group is headquartered in Ohio with offices in Lexington and Louisville and designs, installs and services mechanical and environmental systems that help entities save on energy costs.

Further, Gorin said, he wants a committee of Magistrates James Jones and John Gaines and Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers to meet and make a recommendation to magistrates as to what they believe should be done to improve the courthouse.

Gorin also included a provision that the county advertise for bids again, but this time not require that a company guarantee energy savings.

Jones seconded the motion.

Before the vote, Rogers said he doesn't believe there is enough time to get the project approved before winter. He said it should be made known that the company receiving the bid might have to help the county make it through the winter, as its heating equipment is in poor condition.

Rogers said he believes, if magistrates vote to do what Gorin asked, such a project likely wouldn't begin until next spring.

Matt Callahan of Perfection Group said he doesn't know what Gorin's motion will do to the county's eligibility for a $200,000 grant it applied for to help pay for the project.

And if the county starts over, he said, it could be as many as six months before it's in the position it's in now, which is ready to begin construction.

"We're trying to help the Court," he said. "We're certainly not trying to hurt it."

Callahan said he believes magistrates could see higher estimates after bidding the project again. He said his company has completed a professionally engineered plan.

"And you'll get a turn key job with us," he said.

Callahan said he had hoped his company could guarantee more energy savings, but that just didn't happen.

"We want your business," he said.

In a roll call vote, Jones, Gaines and Magistrate Tommy Corbin apologized to the Perfection Group representatives for the county deciding to not contract with the company after all.

Gaines said his concern is that no local companies submitted bids for the project and might not have been able to with the energy savings requirement in the bid package.

"I see the need for us to do something and I hate to see us wait another six months," he said.

Jones said he was, at first, in favor of doing the complete $1.4 million project. But he said magistrates must do what their constituents want.

Corbin said magistrates have "caught a lot of flak" about spending $1.4 million of taxpayer money on the project. Nevertheless, he said, he apologizes for the company putting time and effort into the project and receiving nothing in return.

"I have to listen to my constituents," he said.

Rogers said he and Jones and Gaines will have to meet soon to discuss a proposal as to what direction the county should go now. As of press time, a committee meeting hadn't yet been announced.

The Perfection Group representatives asked to be notified about bid deadlines should they want to bid on the project again.