HVAC controls would save $10K annually at Hawkins Justice Center

Jeff Bobo • Feb 24, 2020 at 6:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County facilities manager Sarah Davis hopes to pick up where she and County Mayor Jim Lee left off last year when they implemented spending cuts that are saving Hawkins County $137,676 annually.

With regards to HVAC, however, the county will have to spend money to save money.

During the Feb. 18 meeting of the County Commission’s Public Buildings Committee (PBC) Davis asked commissioners to consider a proposal from Trane Heating and Cooling to install temperature controls in the courthouse, courthouse annex and justice center. 

Trane estimated the courthouse project to cost $21,000 and the Justice Center to cost $49,000. 

The savings at the Justice Center on the courtroom side of the building is estimated at $10,000 annually, just by being able to change the temperature setting automatically when court isn’t in session.

Davis said she has the current system set up so she can look at it and change the temperature from her desk, but the existing system doesn't allow for HVAC scheduling.

“Because they didn't keep the software updated … right now all we have is a $50,000 piece of equipment that we can only change the temperature on,” Davis said. “We have no way to look to see what the schedule is when it's occupied or unoccupied. This (proposed Trane system) is a very sophisticated system. You can go in and do it remotely, the way Trane has proposed to do this in the courthouse and the Justice Center. I could get the schedules for the courts and only heat and cool those courtrooms on the days that they're being used.”

Committee member Charles Thacker suggested scheduling a meeting for next month to give the committee time to study the Trane proposal before making a recommendation. Davis said she would need approval to move forward with the project in time to include the cost for consideration in the 2020-21 budget.

Cost saving summary

Davis presented the PBC with a summary of the $137,675 in cost savings measures that were implemented last year by her and Lee.

Switching from Charter to HolstonConnects saved $10,817 annually; he made AT&T reduce the cost to the county to the state rate, which saved $18,989 annually; discontinued services and contracts totaled $68,156; ending the EMA communication maintenance contract saved $25,834; the EMA moved to the Administration building, saving $5,635; switching to Unifirst mats and uniforms saved $5,132; and seeking lower AT&T rates at the Senior Center and Archive building saved $681.

Priority building projects for 2020-21

Davis asked the PBC to set its priorities for proposed capital outlay projects for the 2020-21 fiscal year so she can obtain estimates for those jobs in time for the upcoming budget hearings. The PBC is expected to have its priorities ready to discuss and approve at its next meeting on March 16.

Commissioner John Metz requested that mandatory ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) upgrades and roofing projects be moved to the top of the list. Every county building must be ADA compliant by 2023.

Davis described the carpeting in the Courthouse Annex as an embarrassment. She said the carpeting has tape on the floors to keep people form tripping, and the 20-year-old carpeting “is in horrible shape.”

“If we could do sections at a time — if we could get our inmate work crew to put the flooring down, I don't think it would be that expensive,” Davis said.

County Clerk Nancy Davis, whose office is in the annex, said the carpeting is rumpled in places and she believes it will be a fall hazard.

Leaky Justice Center roof

The Justice Center roof has leaked since the building was renovated into courtrooms and a jail in 2010.

Davis said there have been 18 leaks reported in the current fiscal year and 10 leaks in 2018-19.

There is still five years remaining on the Justice Center roof warranty. PBC Chairman Rick Brewer said the county should contact the contractor who installed the roof and talk about getting a new roof installed at a reduced cost rather than putting Band-Aids on it for the next five years.

Leaky Health Department roof

Davis presented the PBC with an engineer's report that said the flat portion of the leaking roof at the Hawkins County Health Department building in Church Hill can hold the weight of a tin roof addition.

But the existing flat roof would have to be removed to decrease the weight, which would be more expensive. The engineer told Davis the more cost effective option would be to replace the existing flat roof with either shingles or metal on the sloped portion.

The commission approved $50,000 to complete that roof project last year, which Davis said isn't enough. Before advertising for bids she'd like to know where the funds will come from.

“We had several leaks last year during the same wet season we're having now, “ Davis told the committee. “The last time we had someone up there (for repairs) was in June. … It was $1,300, and I have not had a leak reported since last June. It seems to have stopped the problem.”

Brewer said he'd like to see the building before making a decision.