Essex County is going out to bid on a major roof repair project to its government offices, and the county Board of Supervisors has decided to complete a separate refurbishment project in-house, with county and town employees.
The roof repairs this year will focus on the Government Center building, the main offices for the Essex County government, county officials have said.
"Our main complex here, we have some roofs that need to be repaired over the course of a few years," county Manager Dan Palmer said. "They're shingled roofs, and they've gone beyond their years."
The county recently allocated $200,000 this year for the project, Palmer said. The cost is expected to continue over the years until the project is complete. No bids have been submitted yet.
Is the roof leaking?
"Oh yeah, we've got some occasional leaks inside that have been causing a problem," Palmer said.
County Clerk Joseph Provoncha said the Government Center building was built in 1996.
The county Highway Department garage and two other buildings on the property in Lewis are in need of new siding, Public Works Superintendent Chris Garrow said.
"The siding is rotting right off it; it's deteriorating," Garrow said.
The main office, a maintenance shop and a storage garage all need the new siding. The materials that will be used to repair the highway garage were purchased last year. The county budgeted $100,000 for the project, but two consecutive bids came back too expensive.
"The bids came back at $123,000," Palmer said. "So then the board opted to have us go back out and break it down (into three separate bids) by buildings, and the response that came back was $189,000."
Garrow recently pitched the county supervisors on doing the project in-house, having county and town employees pool their workforces together to complete the project. The supervisors approved the measure.
Garrow said he is currently putting a "game plan" together to see how many towns he can get to work for the county on the repairs.
"We're trying to think outside the box here and get stuff done at a cheaper cost," Garrow said.
A "rough estimate" of the labor cost will be "$40,000 based on a crew of five guys for a one-month period," he said.
How much money do you expect this to save the county?
"I expect cost savings," Garrow said. "That's a tough answer. I'm not quite sure how long it will take to do it."
Palmer said doing something like this in-house is a rare occurrence.
"I don't know how successful that is going to be," Palmer said. "We'll see how it works out."
Garrow said he's optimistic it will work.
"We've done shared services with towns for years, and I think it's a good way to get a little help back from the towns and get a project like this done," he said.
Garrow worked for the town of Jay's highway department for 28 years, 13 as superintendent, until being hired as county highway superintendent this May.