Portage County commissioners accepted construction bids totaling $4.9 million Tuesday for the new county municipal courthouse going up in Kent.
Winning low bidders were: Foti Contracting (masonry), of Wickliffe, $844,000; Mid American Construction LLC (general trades) of Cleveland, $2,128,000; Kline & Kavali Mechanical (plumbing and fire protection) of Brimfield, $319,900; S.A. Comunale (heating/ventilation and air conditioning) of Barberton, $587,359; and Speelman Electric, Inc. (electrical/technology/security) of Tallmadge, $1,061,521.
A total of 34 bids were received on the project.
JoAnn Townend, director of internal services for the board, said the bids were $393,000 less than the estimated construction cost.
Townend said the bids are the last for the construction of the courthouse building. Other "soft" costs for interior finishes and furnishings will be bid later on.
The vote to accept the bids was 2-1 with Commissioners Kathleen Chandler and Maureen Frederick voting for, and Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio voting against.
Marsilio said "It remains my opinion the courthouse is too big and way too expensive and, with other things staring at the county -- like overcrowding at the jail -- I can't in good conscience vote for it. I think we can build a smaller, less expensive courthouse."
The new courthouse, estimated to cost $10.4 million, is expected to open in January, 2014. The two-story, 25,000-square-feet structure is going up on a two-acre site in the 300 block of East Main Street.
Last year, the county and the city of Kent agreed to a land swap of the site for the new courthouse for the existing courthouse, a former U.S. Post Office on South Water Street, and an adjacent county-owned lot.
Funding for the project is coming from a special fee placed on municipal court cases, which generates about $550,000 annually and from $7 million generated by the sale of The Woodlands at Robinson, the county's former nursing home in Ravenna. That money is being essentially loaned to the construction project. Because of the threat of repayment penalties, the county could not pay off the bonded debt left on the nursing home and had to find a new capital project to invest proceeds from the sale. The courts will then repay the county general fund, plus interest, from the special municipal court fee.
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