HEFLIN — The Cleburne County Commission on Monday discussed ongoing negotiations with the county’s insurance company over the costs to replace the courthouse roof, which was damaged by hail earlier this year.
The issue is not over the roof itself, which is leaking in spots, but the cost needed to replace or repair the clock tower of the 111-year-old structure.
The contractor who was awarded the bid, Harold Forysth, addressed the commission with his concerns.
The dome of the courthouse is gold in appearance, similar to the “Golden Dome” on the main building on the University of Notre Dame campus.
Over the years the metal on the dome has held up but has been pelted by hailstones and according to Forsyth looks like hail-dented car.
“That dome is made, years ago, with a special metal that you can’t get anymore according to these roofers. It’s old, it’s durable, it was made a lot better than today,” Forsyth said.
Forsyth said that the roofer can replace the dome with copper — which is a soft material — but it will get “beat up” again during the next storm.
Another issue is the upcoming winter with its cold and wet days, according to Forsyth. Forsyth said the bid was accepted on Sept. 4, three months ago, and to take the dome’s roof off during the winter months might be too much of a liability for the county.
The commission debated whether to just repaint the dome, which would reduce the overall cost of the project, or to have the roof replaced.
The accepted bid for the entire roofing job was $364,000, and the insurance company figured the cost to be $301,000. Forsyth said that insurance companies do not care if the client is a public entity that has to abide by bid laws.
Forsyth said part of the problem is the cost of the scaffolding needed to work on the three story dome regardless of whether the copper is replaced or just painted and sealed.
Forsyth said the low bidder for the scaffolding was $62,000, the insurance company allocated just $500. Forsyth said that as a rule, contractors now subcontract other companies to erect scaffolding for construction and remodeling jobs due to the high costs of liability.
For now the project is being delayed due to the continuing negotiations between the county and the insurance company over costs.
The commission hopes to have an answer by Friday on what direction the project will take once the insurance company revises its estimate due to the cost of the scaffolding and other items.
The commission also heard from the city of Heflin’s economic developer, Tanya Maloney, about granting a tax abatement for a Cleburne County Business.
Bennett Plants, which is investing $400,000 into its business, seeks relief from property and sales tax.
In return the business promises to employ 15 workers at $10 per hour, according to Maloney.
The commission will discuss the matter at next week’s meeting, Nov 10.