County commissioners discussed three facilities bond-related issues with Jon Vidauri of the Staubach Company during their meeting Tuesday.
Discussion included the request for qualifications for design services, which county offices will be located in the new courts building and which will be in the courthouse and the makeup process for the citizen’s bond oversight committee.
Vidauri said Staubach was putting together a draft RFQ for architectural and engineering design services, with a final draft expected June 14. He also discussed the benefits of contracting with a single firm for architectural and engineering services and proposed a five-member selection committee to include two representatives from Staubach, one from the county, one from the city and one from the sheriff’s office.
Better fees could be negotiated by hiring a single firm for the entire project, he said, as well as hiring a single construction manager to handle the two projects: the courts and administration building and the detention center.
Relating to moving county offices, Vidauri said Staubach’s baseline instrument called for the relocation “of everyone in the old Wal-Mart and from the streets around the square into the new building” as well as the relocation of high-traffic services from the courthouse.
The courts and administration building will have space for six courtrooms, with Staubach anticipating moving the county courts-at-law into the building, leaving the two district courts in the courthouse.
The space allows flexibility in which courts are located in the building, Vidauri said, noting that the space for the additional courts - if not necessitated by caseload or population growth - could be used for additional office space or for the district courts.
Asked for his recommendations about which offices should move, Vidauri said he wanted to meet with the county engineer to determine the foot traffic levels for the various offices, saying those numbers would be important in determining their building location as well as which floors best suit the departments.
Citizen’s oversight committee
Relating to the citizen’s oversight committee, Pct. 4 Commissioner Ron Brown inquired about the possibility of hosting a regularly scheduled public forum where a five-person committee and the commissioners could answer questions. Brown proposed meeting weekly, with Vidauri saying monthly meetings of such committees are more typical.
After some off-topic discussion to hold a workshop on project timelines as well as contract development and change orders, the commissioners returned to the subject of the citizen’s oversight committee.
Brown said each member of the court would appoint one person to the committee. Sims then discussed his proposal for a 21-member committee to include the five members of the original facilities sub-committee, four members appointed by the county judge, and the commissioners each appointing three members from their precincts.
Requiring the commissioners to appoint members from outside the county’s largest cities, would address concerns of the smaller towns such as Milford, Maypearl and Italy, all of which “are expecting to have somebody on that committee,” Sims said, adding, “I don’t think five is enough to represent the whole county.”
Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson said he was OK with a larger committee, but felt there would be a problem working with 21 people.
“It would be very hectic and very difficult,” Dodson said, with Pct. 1 Commissioner Dennis Robinson also voicing his opinion that 21 would be too many.
Sims then proposed having each member of the court appoint four or five members, with each of those groups selecting a co-chair to attend the meetings.
This co-chair would then report back to the other members, Sims said, saying the co-chairs and the commissioners would get together for some activities, with the whole body assembling for others.
In other bond matters, commissioners approved an agreement with Vinson and Elkins to act as the county’s bond and finance counsel. County Auditor Mike Navarro said the firm would serve the county in several areas, including assisting in acquiring the attorney general’s approval of the bonds and maintaining the bonds’ tax-exempt status.
E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com