The city of Clinton is requesting special legislation to move forward with a design-build process for two future construction projects that will save a “substantial amount of money” over use of the currently mandated design-bid-build method.
N.C. General Statute 143-128 do not authorize local governments to utilize a design-build method of construction for public facilities over $300,000.
“Design-build is not a permitted process for any expenditure for any construction of $300,000 or more by local governments in North Carolina without special legislation,” said assistant city manager Shawn Purvis.
The current statutes only allow for the utilization of the design-bid-build process, which requires the use of an architect or design professional to lead the process. The city has two facilities, the Bellamy Center and the City of Clinton Public Works maintenance facility, that will need to be renovated or expanded over the next several years.
To that end, Purvis said the city would like to seek out special legislation to allow for the use of the design-build process for the two pre-engineered buildings, which it is believed would be more cost effective than hiring an architect.
“Being pre-engineered buildings, we feel it might be a good fit for design-build projects in the future, but they will more than likely cost over $300,000, which is the reason we would ask for a resolution supporting special legislation,” said Purvis. “That would give us permission for those two projects to eventually do design-build.”
The City of Clinton’s Capital Improvement Plan contains a comprehensive list of large-cost projects on the horizon, some this year and next, others undetermined and well down the road, but still on the city’s radar. A couple of those projects are the Bellamy Center addition and the Public Works facility renovations.
According to the Clinton 2012-13 CIP, the Bellamy Center would have an estimated cost of $3.5 million, and would be funded in future years, with no specific fiscal year plan determined. The Public Works facility renovations, at a cost of around $350,000, is tentatively scheduled to be funded between 2015-17.
The Public Works facility renovations would see the expansion of the break room and restroom facilities and a re-design of the office space in exsiting offices to accommodate three offices and a receiving area. The project is expected to accommodate the office and break room needs for the next 20 years, as current employee numbers are within 10 percent of what they were in 1990. Storage areas will also be addressed with minor upgrades to the Caison Building across the street, and the cost will additionally include resurfacing.
The Bellamy Center renovation proposes to add a second gym, as well as enlarge the program areas to expand program offerings and meet demands, city officials said.
Space at Sunset School has been utilized to meet space needs for volleyball and basketball in recent years, and more space at Bellamy could keep some of those programs at Royal Lane Park facilities. The preliminary design has already been completed in order to improve service, and city officials said the design could be further modified to reduce costs.
“With growing numbers of participants of all ages, we want to be able to meet the needs of all age groups in the future,” city manager John Connet previously stated. “With the delay of the resource center, staff may look to redesign the Bellamy addition to add office space. This would consolidate facilities and reduce long-term costs.”
Once department heads submit all capital projects, which is done in January each year following discussion with city managerial staff about the projects and their cost, the managerial staff then ranks the projects using 10 different criteria and a 120-point scale. Among the criteria considered are public safety, service efficiency, Council and community goals, legal mandates and availability of outside funds, along with others.
As part of the 2012-13 CIP, the Bellamy Center was ranked at a score of 52.5, while the Public Works renovations was one of the lowest ranked projects with a score of 15. However, funded capital projects in the current budget had scores of anywhere between 35 and in excess of 80. City officials said the total points for each project merely represent a guideline and are not the determining factor for project funding. Council must approve projects, which are subject to change based on shifts in priorities and the economy.
Special legislation, if successfully sought, could cut costs for those capital projects by side-stepping the bid process. The City Council approved a resolution to that effect.
“These projects may exceed the $300,000 threshold and the design-build construction method will be the most cost effective construction method to renovate and expand these facilities,” the resolution read.
“It would save us a substantial amount of money,” said Mayor Lew Starling concurred.
“Without the design-bid-build, not having to go through that extra bid process, saves considerable money,” said Purvis.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.