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ESG project gets green light
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Warren County commissioners have approved a $5.8 million project by Energy Savings Group for improvements at the jail and other county buildings. 

The ESG project has two parts: 1) jail improvements total $3.65 million will be paid using money already obtained for the jail; 2) the remaining $2.17 million will cover all other county buildings, and general obligation bonds will be borrowed to cover that portion. 

Commissioners approved three resolutions: 

• Appropriation plan for the county’s intent to spend $3.65 million of the $6.5 million in bond money previously appropriated for jail improvements. 

• An initial resolution of the county’s intent to borrow up to $2.27 million in bonds to cover the $2.17 million.

• A resolution authoring the issuance of general obligation bonds not to exceed $2.27 million to cover the $2.17 million.

The measures passed 23-1 with Commissioner Tyrone Sparkman voting against each one. 

ESG’s improvement list is lengthy and includes HVAC and air quality improvements, weatherization, and upgrades to lighting, water and roofs. The jail’s project will also include cameras, locks and key card access, security system controls and monitoring, interior door sweeps, shower floor surface upgrade, laundry and kitchen improvements, etc.  

The contract with ESG includes a performance guarantee in that the county’s annual debt service payment on the $2.27M can be made using cost savings created by the project, plus an additional $25,000 allocation by the county. If not, ESG will pay that difference. ESG estimates the county will save up to $154,513 annually.

At this time, only the roof at the Administrative Office building on Locust Street will be completely recovered. The roofs at Warren County’s Health Department, courthouse and jail will be repaired. 

“It says partial, but this is the flat section at the courthouse,” said ESG account executive Josh McNeil, during a presentation. “The shingles that are there are good. This is a complete redo of that flat section, as well as at the health department in the section that hasn’t been done yet. We are going to replace the shingle siding at the health department. It’s been a maintenance nightmare for you. We’ll place metal panels there.”

McNeil said repair will extend the life of those roofs a few more years. 

ESG’s roof plan brought a negative reaction from some commissioners. 

“Did I understand you to say that the shingle roof at the courthouse was OK,” said Commissioner Carl E. Bouldin. “That roof has been on there 28 or 29 years.”

McNeil replied, “The flat section is the main problem. When we were walking through, based on our understanding, the shingles in those couple of sections are in good shape. The flat section is getting replaced.”

Commissioner Cole Taylor said it’s better to replace roofs now.

“In a couple of years, it’s going to be hard to ask our taxpayers for money because the shingles were bad,” said Taylor. “Do you see what I’m saying? We’re spending the money. If it’s going to cost another $150,000 to get it all fixed at once, that’s better than having to tell taxpayers in another couple of years that we’ll have to borrow more money.” 

McNeil said the decision was made in an effort to prioritize, but those projects can be added to the scope of the work later and at an additional cost. 

“We usually try and look at it from a useful life standpoint and prioritize the money and getting the things we know have to be replaced now,” he said. “If we move forward with the project and you want us to add that portion of the roof, I can come back to you and say ‘this is what it will be’ and if you want to add it, we can do that.”

With approval for the measures, ESG can begin the improvement projects.