Town employees may help build facility

PERTH – Town officials may explore allowing town employees to help build a new Highway Department facility to keep the project’s cost below the amount approved by taxpayers.

The town in 2009 began the process of trying to replace the town barn on Midline Road, which is too small to accommodate all of the town’s equipment and worn out after 45 years of use, town employees said.

Voters in 2011 approved borrowing up to $600,000 for the new building, which would be built at the same site.

But the project stalled in the fall when the lowest bids would have required $650,000 in spending.

The town rejected all the bids in September.

Highway Superintendent David Dopp on Thursday provided the Town Board with a list of projects for which Highway Department employees could provide the labor and the town could fund the materials within its current budget.

Dopp said the savings could be about $60,000, potentially bringing the project’s cost below the borrowing limit approved by taxpayers and allowing some of the spending to be done incrementally.

“You’re still paying for it, but not like you’re writing a check on top of everything else,” Supervisor Greg Fagan said.

“It’s stuff we could probably save a lot of money on,” Dopp said. “It’s stuff we’re all qualified and able to do, and we’re prepared to work with the builder as we’re doing it.”

Dopp suggested the town consider handling a lot of the outdoor work, including installing safety bollards, constructing a garage apron and propane tank pad, installing a wire fence around a ditch behind the property and performing septic tank work.

“We could also do some of the inside work if you really wanted to go down that road – hanging insulation, hanging the metal, building the office,” Dopp added.

Fagan was enthusiastic about the potential savings but cautioned against having town employees help with indoor work.

He said the town could run into a conflict with the Wicks law, a 100-year-old state regulation that establishes qualifications for electrical, plumbing and ventilation contractors on public building projects that cost more than $500,000.

Fagan also noted there could be eventual concerns with the building’s warranty if town labor was involved.

“For us to save a lot of money to help this building come down to our cost, obviously we’re sticking our neck out for it,” Dopp said.

Dopp said he would talk about the possible changes with project manager Peter Wehner of Rochester-based Passero Associates, which engineered the project in 2011 and shepherded companies through the bidding process.

More than two dozen firms reviewed bid documents last summer, including 12 from Fulton and Montgomery counties, according to Passero Associates’ website.

Seven placed bids on the general construction.

The lowest initial bid was placed by Buck Construction of Whiteboro, Oneida County, for $497,777, which did not include $153,750 in low electrical, mechanical and plumbing bids placed by subcontractors.

Two Fulton County companies also bid on the construction: Stephen Miller General Contractors of Mayfield and Dimark Development of Perth, whose office is 2 miles north of the existing town barn.