Commissioners may use rescue funds on courthouse energy replacement, upgrades | News

MADISON — A firm familiar with the in-depth utility design of the Madison County Courthouse was selected Tuesday by the Madison County Board of Commissioners to further investigate the courthouse’s heating and HVAC systems.

Farris Engineering of Omaha, the same company that studied the electrical system of the courthouse remodel, will further investigate the courthouse system and help make recommendations so that the work can be put out to bid.

Dick Johnson, the county road superintendent and engineer, went over some of the most pressing needs with the courthouse’s heating and HVAC systems. They are:

* There is an unsealed hole in the boiler flue. It now has a temporary fix.

* Replace the HVAC unit on the roof, which is estimated to cost about $100,000.

* Replace a chiller and expand controls with new equipment, estimated to cost approximately $300,000.

Ron Schmidt, district commissioner, said many of the items in the courthouse, including the HVAC unit and chiller, are original equipment and have reached their life expectancy. The courthouse was built in 1977.

“It works, but we have borrowed time,” Schmidt said.

Troy Uhlir, county council president, said Farris Engineering is familiar with the county’s heating, air-conditioning and electrical systems. The company assists the province in developing specifications.

The commissioners said they probably can’t afford to do everything at once, so they want to get a plan to prioritize.

Commissioner Eric Stinson said of course it makes the most sense to have the hole in the boiler flue repaired immediately. Otherwise, carbon monoxide could leak into the courthouse.

Johnson agreed. He said he would like the company to do some more research and see if the new system could be more energy efficient, along with a possible air filtration system.

Uhlir said it could be possible that the funds from the US bailout plan could be used for costs. Energy efficiency is one of the factors money can be spent on, it turns out.

The county’s allocation of ARP resources should exceed $6.8 million. The province should have its funds in place by 2024 and dispersed by 2026.

Another consideration for ARP funding is that the county will purchase the satellite office leased by the Elkhorn Logan Valley Health Department in Norfolk.

Purchasing the building would save the health department a monthly rent payment, which could help replace some lost funding for it.

As commissioners work on the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year, they can include courthouse expenses. Decisions will be announced later.

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