ELIZABETHTOWN — Some Essex County lawmakers question why an outside firm, instead of county engineers, will prepare bid specifications for roof repair at the county complex.
The county is starting a two-year project to repair and replace deteriorated roofs at the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne asked for $32,400 to hire AES Northeast engineering of Plattsburgh for architectural and design services.
At the recent Board of Supervisors Ways and Means session, Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) asked why county personnel were’t doing the work instead of AES.
“Don’t we have engineers working for us?” he said. “We hired them because they have certain qualifications that contributed to the enhancement of that department. Aren’t they getting paid based on the fact that they’re engineers?
“Why wouldn’t we use our own people if they’re capable?”
LaVigne told lawmakers the engineers on his staff don’t do that kind of work.
“Our engineering staff is not necessarily requiring a P.E. (professional engineer’s license); it’s a matter of happenstance,” LaVigne said.
“What our engineering staff does, primarily, is the administrative end of the DPW: codes, permitting, inspections.”
In New York, only a licensed engineer may prepare, sign, seal and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval.
Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) said he also wondered why the DPW staff could not act in that capacity.
“I asked an engineer in that department Friday why they don’t do it, and he said they don’t stamp anything, apparently due to liability reasons,” he said.
Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) said the roof project also needs architectural services that AES can provide.
“These are old, historic roofs,” Morrow said.
The county complex has buildings constructed in 1809, 1931 and 1950.
Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said his town did a roof-replacement project without a professional engineer and paid the price.
“Once they (contractors) started, the cost skyrocketed. That bid changed drastically once they got into replacement of that roof.”
Supervisor Michael Marnell (R-Schroon) said someone should take the roof apart first to determine exactly what must be done.
“(If) the lumber’s decayed on the other side, you take the roof off and get into it.”
They have to try to keep costs for the project down, County Manager Daniel Palmer said.
“When you have to stay within a budgeted amount, we have to define what each contractor is going to build,” he said.
“We need someone to come in and look at the area to be repaired, make determinations, prepare specs. They do some investigative work.”
It isn’t just looking at a leaky roof from the ground, Palmer said.
Only Marnell was opposed to hiring AES, and the resolution passed, 17-1, with a final vote today at the board’s regular meeting.
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