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Courthouse to get new chiller

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Grimes County commissioners conducted two meetings Wednesday, Sept. 4 - a public hearing on the proposed tax rate followed by a Special Meeting to address the purchase of a chiller for the Grimes County courthouse.

Convening the Special Meeting, commissioners received a recommendation from Building Maintenance Manager, Al Peeler, to replace the aging chiller at the Grimes County courthouse. Following the guidelines of Local Government Code 262.024 that allow for a discretionary exemption from the competitive bidding process for expenditures of $50,000 or more in certain circumstances, commissioners approved the purchase of a new Carrier chiller from Air Tech Brazos Valley in the amount of $80,210.

Citing applicable reasons for the discretionary exemption, Peeler said, “It’s an item necessary to preserve or protect the public health or safety of residents of the county and an item necessary because of unforeseen damage to public property. To explain that a little better, the chiller provides A/C and humidity control to the historic courthouse and it would create damage to the courthouse if the chiller went down in our high humidity.”

Peeler said he had obtained three quotes but the delivery time for two of the three is 6-9 weeks. The third is available immediately, but costs $104,896.

Peeler said that because he is running on three compressors, two of which are new, “I can limp along for the six to nine weeks. I can run with those three. I have humidity control turned off now, so we don’t strain the chiller.”

Peeler added that the Carrier line matches up the best and replumbing won’t be necessary which adds to the cost and Grimes County has a past working history with Air Tech.

Responding to Judge Joe Fauth’s inquiry about installation time, Peeler said,” Air Tech will have it in Friday and running by Saturday.”

Peeler advised that $50,000 is available in his current 2019 budget to order the chiller and the balance will be paid from the 2020 budget. He also estimates a utility savings.

County attorney Jon C. Fultz reviewed with the court the discretionary exemption provisions and the potential for unforeseen damage to public property by adhering to the requisite time for going out for bids in addition to the 6-9 weeks delivery time.

Fauth recalled humidity damage to the courthouse from Hurricane Harvey that resulted in $40,000 in repairs for damage to records and equipment and said, “I have a real concern about documents, records we have stored there.”

Commissioner Barbara Walker was not present as she was attending a legislative day in Austin.

No comment on tax rate

There were no citizen comments for or against the proposed tax rate of $0.530261 per $100 valuation for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020. The next public hearing will be held at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Grimes County Annex Building, 114 W. Buffington in Anderson.