Commissioners approve emergency exemption for courthouse air-conditioning replacement

Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

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The Troup County Board of Commissioners approved an emergency exemption of the standard bidding process for the replacement of the HVAC cooling system at the Troup County Government Center.

The HVAC replacement is expected to cost upwards of $800,000.

Special Projects Manager Jay Anderson said the current system is 20 years old and the units were installed when the courthouse was built.

Anderson said they knew the issue was coming because of preventive maintenance reports and an increased need for repairs.

“We knew that we needed to start looking at new systems. We had actually started, but it’s been expedited now because, over the cold weather, we had a failure in one of our two cooling towers,” Anderson said.

In addition to the coil banks on the unit that are failing, both 20-year-old units have areas that are rusting out and would need to be replaced at some point.

Anderson said county officials have been looking at repair options and replacement options. He said that repairing the unit would cost about 60 percent of the replacement cost.

“The repair options are just as time-consuming and extremely expensive, so we think the best value for the county is to go with the replacement route,” he said.

Anderson said they have received three quotes for the replacement, but they need some time to review them to make sure they are equivalent and determine which one is in the best interest of the county.

Because of the lead time of 15 to 20 weeks, Anderson asked the commissioners to allow them to use one of the quotes to get the unit ordered as quickly as possible rather than wait for the standard bid process.

“Our air conditioning might not be important today, but 15 or 20 weeks from now it’s going to be a much more pressing issue,” Anderson said.

County Attorney Jerry Willis said the repair or replacement would be considered a public works project that exceeds $100,000, which normally would require a process of advertising for bids for four weeks, and then by the time they are assessed, that’s another six to eight weeks.

The bid process, plus the lead time due to supply chain issues, would put the installation well into the heat of summer, said Willis, which he noted could affect the health and welfare of the countless citizens that use the government center every day.

Willis said the commissioners could approve an emergency exemption to allow skipping the standard bid process expedite the air conditioning replacement.

The vote would allow the process to begin so that staff can evaluate the three quotes that were received and recommend one for final approval. Anderson said staff would need a few days to evaluate the quotes that were received, which could be completed by the end of the week.

Ultimately, the commissioners unanimously voted to exempt the purchase from the standard bid process due to the emergency timeframe.

After the vote, the commissioners called for an emergency meeting on Monday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. for the final approval of the HVAC system purchase.