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County commissioners agree to cover cost of COA roof repairs

Barry County Commissioners opted to pay for Commission on Aging roof repairs despite disagreement about who should pay for it.

The 4-2 vote at Tuesday’s board meeting OK’d the $25,750 cost for the work to be done by the True Colors Industrial LLC, to be paid from the county’s building rehabilitation fund.

Last week, commissioners debated whether taking that money from the county's fund was appropriate, since the COA has a $314,000 fund balance, plus $380,000 in its building fund.

Commissioner Jon Smelker asked if the action would set a precedent, opening the way for requests from other county departments that require roof repairs.

On Tuesday, Tammy Pennington, executive director of the Commission on Aging, added some detail: “At the last meeting, a question was raised - I think it was Commissioner Smelker – asking about whether we had done due diligence in roof repairs over the years in coming to the commission for $25,000 roof repair. … and maybe it wouldn’t have gotten to this point.

“We actually, over the last 10 years, have done nine different roof repairs, patch jobs, on that roof – ranging from a $150 repair to a $7,235 repair. 

“So, the total on those repairs over the last 10 years is $18,645 – that doesn’t include the $7,000 that we’ve spent in the past two seasons doing shoveling– so that’s a total of $25,645 that we have spent out the COA budget.”

Pennington noted that, in addition, the COA has spent money on other building improvements and repairs over the years.

Smelker thanked Pennington for that information then asked if the vote should wait for Commissioner Vivian Conner to return, since Conner serves on the COA committee and originally had placed the request for roof repair on the commissioners’ agenda.

Wing read Conner’s message she had sent via email:

“I’m sorry that I can’t be there, but it is still too early in the healing process for me to come today. The funds for the roof repair for the COA roof are currently proposed in their 2020 budget. 

“I am the one that told the COA board that I would ask the board of commissioners if this could be paid out of the county building fund.  The master facilities plan is in the hands of the board of commissioners.

“We have known since 2015 that the jail and the COA are the two most vulnerable buildings. They both are failing. It is our responsibility to get these projects underway before we have major issues. While both these departments wait on us, I thought the COA roof repair might be appropriate for the county to pay for because we have not moved forward yet.

“The COA is trying to keep costs down and get through until we decide the best route to go. The board needs to get moving on these two buildings. I leave it to the rest of you to make the right decision.”

Commissioner Ben Geiger agreed, but added, “The jail still is the top priority of this county. ... Just because we talked about the COA doesn’t mean we’re any less committed to replacing the county jail. “

Smelker asked if it would be appropriate for the county to award the work to True Colors Industrial LLC when this was the only bid submitted.

County Administrator Michael Brown replied that, if there is only one bid in response to the county's solicitation for bids, it is acceptable for the board to choose that bid.

In the action to OK the request, Commissioners Dave Jackson, Dan Parker, Geiger and Wing voted for it with Commissioners Howard Gibson and Smelker voting against it. Conner was absent.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved amending a resolution to modify the process for recruiting and interviewing candidates for boards and commissions. Smelker cast the only dissenting vote because there was no final resolution, as amended, presented to the board for its consideration.

• Approved appointing Conner as Officer Delegate and Wing as Officer Alternate to attend the 2019 Municipal Employees Retirement System Annual meeting, and to approve paying the expenses for the officer delegate and the employee delegate to attend Oct. 3 and 4 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme.

• Wing told commissioners that the Michigan Department of Transportation will be installing a traffic light on M37/M43 where it intersects with the Walmart driveway. On June 20, some county employees were injured when a vehicle crashed into their county vehicle there.  Wing said she reached out to county Road Commissioner Managing Director Brad Lamberg, who inquired about state plans to deal with that intersection, which has been the scene of many accidents. “It’s not an easy driveway to get out of,” Wing said, adding, “something will be done in 2020.

• Approved pre-paid invoices of $2,895,285.

• Approved claims totaling $65,032.

• Approved commissioners’ mileage of $777.

* Approved the purchase of new furniture for the adult specialty court office for $15,567 ($14,902 to Interphase Interiors and $665.00 to Office Depot) and approved the purchase of office dividers for the Family Division clerical office in the amount of $2,200 for a total of $17,766, with funds to be paid from the Capital Replacement Fund.

• Approved the purchase of a new 2019 GMC Terrain through the State of Michigan MiDEAL purchasing program to replace a 2019 GMC Terrain, VIN 3GKALMEV4KL287795, damaged in an auto accident June 20.

• Approved replacing a sheriff’s office Marine Patrol Vessel No. 2, a 2001 Lund, with a 2020 Lund of equal capabilities for the amount of $25,128 with funds to be paid from the vehicle fund, and to sell the 2001 Lund via sealed bid to the highest bidder.

• Approved changes/additions to the Barry County Information Technology Security Policy (Version 7.0).

• Wing announced that there will be no county board meeting Tuesday during fair week. The next regular county board meeting will take place at 9 a.m. July 22 in the county courthouse on the mezzanine. The public is welcome to attend.

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