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County approves Change Order policy, funding for county barn

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The Grimes County Commissioners Court held a Special Meeting Monday, Nov. 4, to address Change Order guidelines and authorization, and to act on a Change Order proposal for construction of a county maintenance barn on FM 2455. With a 3-0 vote, the court approved Judge Joe Fauth’s motion to authorize the Road and Bridge Engineer and Commissioner Precinct 2, to authorize change orders up to 5% or less, and not to exceed in total 25%, of contract for the maintenance barn project. All Change Orders will come before the court for budget purposes.

Commissioners then moved to approve Change Order No. 1 in the amount of $9,200, increasing the original contract amount of $492,200 to $501,400 and to increase the original contract time of 180 days by 15 days, to 195 days. Commissioners Barbara Walker and Chad Mallett were not present.

According to Road and Bridge Engineer Harry Walker, as work began on the new maintenance barn Oct. 16, Champco, Inc.’s surveyor discovered an issue with the elevation of the slab.

Walker said, “The elevation on the plan for the finished floor on the slab of the building was about 9 inches below grade.”

He continued, “Short of a Special Meeting, the next opportunity (commissioners court) would be Nov. 13, a month after they first raised the issue. In this case, they are literally on hold because the foundation is one of the first things they’re going to work on. There’s nothing they can do until it gets resolved.”

Fauth and Commissioners Phillip Cox and David Dobyanski received an interpretation of two government codes addressing Change Orders from County Attorney Jon C. Fultz. Discussion included the likelihood of Change Orders for other county projects such as the current courthouse renovations, the Justice Center and the animal shelter. Commissioners favored Change Orders be project-specific with authority to approve Change Orders lying with the department head and commissioner in whose precinct the project occurs.

Walker said, “It’s one of those things where you can always apply discretion. Where there’s a decision to be made that’s not clear cut, bring it back to court and let the court make the decision. If it’s something clear cut like this, we need to make a change. There’s no way we want to build this building the way the plans show. That is something that could be handled at the department level. You want to be able to handle these things efficiently and not delay the progress any more than necessary.”