BELLINGHAM - Work on the exterior of the Whatcom County Civic Center Annex should begin before the end of the year, after the County Council approved the low bidder on the project and a budget increase to pay for unforeseen costs.
The council voted 5-2 on Tuesday, Oct. 23, to hire Faber Construction to fix leaks in the exterior of the building, add insulation and install energy-efficient windows. Council members Barbara Brenner and Ken Mann were opposed.
The council also approved an additional $204,662 to cover Faber's bid amount. Faber was the lowest qualified bidder at $1,391,912, but its bid came in higher than the county's estimate. The vote on the budget increase also was 5-2, with the same two council members opposed.
County Facilities Manager Mike Russell said he didn't know why the cost estimate was low.
Most of the money added to the project budget on Tuesday might not be spent. The funds are available for unforeseen expenses, Russell said.
"We don't know what we're going to find when we open up the walls," he said.
The county bought the annex building for $3.82 million in 1997 and has been making improvements since, at a total cost of $1.34 million so far, Russell said.
Mann and Brenner opposed the project because the building is a "money pit," as Brenner put it. She said leaks should have been fixed before the third floor was renovated for the Public Works Department.
The third floor was done first so Public Works employees could move out of a rented building sooner, saving the county money, Russell said. The leaks have not damaged the third floor, he said.
The fourth floor is being prepared for some Health Department offices, which are scheduled to move there in September 2013, Russell said. The department will move out of a rented building at 1500 N. State St., he said.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 715-2298.