Supervisors green light $27m courthouse package

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star

The new Lauderdale County government complex will replace the current courthouse and will be located at old Village Fair Mall site.

After more than three years of work, the Lauderdale County courthouse complex is set to go up after the board of supervisors Monday accepted a multi-project construction package for the building.

The package, which totals more than $27 million, included several different projects for plumbing, electrical, audio visual, fire protection and general trades. The new complex will replace the current courthouse and will be located at old Village Fair Mall site.

The bids awarded were:

•$19,177,000 to Larry J. Sumrall Contractors Inc. for site and general trades;

•$3,830,000 to Pat L. McKenzie Inc. for mechanical and plumbing;

•$330,000 to Mcllwain Services Inc. for fire protection;

•$3,757,000 to Woodall Electric Inc. for electrical; and,

•$312,588 to Academic Technologies Inc. for audio visual.

Bob Luke, with LPK Architects, which has been the firm leading the courthouse project, asked the board to vote quickly on the bids as supply issues and inflation would quickly change prices.

“As we talked about it’s been an unusual bid climate,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of rising prices.”

Under normal circumstances, Luke said, LPK would tell contractors to give 30-45 days to present bids to the board of supervisors, to discuss and approve.

In the current climate, with a pandemic, supply issues and rising inflation, contractors wouldn’t be able to wait that long, he said. 

“In today’s world, that price may not be much good much longer than the day they get it,” he said.

In planning the project, Luke said several alternate bids were set up to avoid going over budget, and Monday’s package included one. Instead of installing metal panels on part of the courthouse building, Luke said stucco would be a more cost effective option.

“So we would recommend taking alternate number five, and that's  included in the prices in the recommendation we just made a moment ago,” he said. “The total for all these packages together is $27,406,188.”

Justin McDonald of Yates Construction said the package was well within the county's budget of $50 million for the complex.

Adding the courthouse project to the costs for the new sheriff’s department, along with additional small projects not yet bid and fees for Yates and LPK, McDonald said the county was still about $3.7 million under its $50 million limit.

“Even by the time you add these additional items, you’re well under your overall budget,” he said.

Funds left over from the project could be used to cover the cost of landscaping or relocating county offices to the new building, McDonald said. The board has also discussed putting leftover funds toward renovations at the current courthouse, which is in need of repair.

McDonald said it would take a few weeks to get bonds and insurance for the contractors in proper order. Once that happens, contractors would be placing orders for their materials and residents could see construction begin soon after the first of the year, he said.

The project has an 18-month time limit once work begins, McDonald said, but it’s possible the work could be completed sooner.

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