Questions Slow County Building Request

SNOW HILL –  County leaders voted not to move forward with replacement of a communications building this week, citing questions surrounding the proposal.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday denied a request from Director of Emergency Services Billy Birch for funding for replacement of the communications shelter located near Snow Hill’s water tank. Commissioners expressed concerns with the estimated cost as well as the proposal itself.

“It’s about as clear as mud,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said. “This needs to go back and be redone.”

Birch told the commissioners his department had been working toward replacement of the communications shelter for several years. He said $300,000 for the project had been appropriated during the budget process. In May, two bids were received for the work, one roughly $309,000 from an Iowa company and another $374,400 bid from a Pennsylvania company. The higher bid was deemed compliant with the county’s needs and Birch asked the commissioners to award the project to the Pennsylvania company. He added that the shelter housed communications equipment used by state, county and municipal governments.

“As a result of the significant amount of fiber optic, microwave and other items that must be addressed as part of this project, in addition to this procurement, completion of this project requires additional work performed by others to include fiber optic splicing, RF cabling and connection to the electrical utility,” Birch’s report to the commissioners reads.

He said that would cost an additional $75,000.

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom asked if the state would contribute to the project, as it had assets in the building. Birch said that he couldn’t enter into negotiations with the state until a contract was awarded.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said he agreed that the existing building was in poor condition but said the proposed price for the new building was ridiculous. Bunting agreed and said he was concerned about the fact that the role of the various parties involved wasn’t clear.

“It’s really confusing,” he said.

The commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a motion by Commissioner Chip Bertino to deny the request and ask the department to return with a clearer proposal.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.